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Commentary On Jeremiah And Lamentations Volume 1 by Jean Calvin

Jeremiah 4:27

27. For thus hath the Lord said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end.

27. Quia sic dicit Jehova, Desolata erit (vasta, perdita erit) tota terra; et finem (vel, consumptionem) non faciam (atque tunc copula resolvetur in adversativam, non tamen consumptionem faciam.)

The Prophet briefly explains here what he understood by the four things which he had seen and of which he had spoken. He then declares, as it were in the person of God, that there would be a dreadful desolation throughout Judea; Wasted, he says, shall be the whole land, or, in the whole land there shall be desolation. Some explain what afterwards follows, as though he mitigated the severity of his language. Hence, as they think, a mitigation is added, which was to relieve the faithful with some hope of mercy, lest they should wholly despond. And indeed were he to threaten only he might fill a hundred worlds with terror. Lest then despair should so overwhelm the faithful as to restrain them from fleeing to God for mercy, it is often added by way of mitigation, that God would not consume the whole land.

The word klh, cale, sometimes means perfection, but in most places, consummation; for the verb signifies to perfect and to consume, and for the same reason. Though these two things seem inconsistent, yet what is consumed is said to be perfected, for it comes to an end. If this explanation is approved, we now see the reason why he declares that he would not make a consummation, with whatever severity he might punish the sins of his people; it was, that some hope might remain for the faithful, so that they might not be wholly discouraged; which would have been the case had not God promised to be propitious and mindful of his covenant.

Some perhaps may approve of reading the sentence as a question, and think that the object is to beat down the pride of the ungodly, and to dissipate the boasting of those who relied on the hope of impunity; as though he had said, |Do ye still deny that I shall make a consummation?|

Now, though the former exposition contains a richer truth, yet I prefer to take klh, cale, as signifying an end, as though he had declared that he would observe no moderation in executing his vengeance: and a similar language occurs in the next chapter. The real meaning then is, -- that God would to the end carry on his work of desolation. The prophets indeed do not always speak alike when they announce God's judgments. Sometimes they denounce ruin where none seems to be safe; yet God ever preserves some hidden seed, as it is said in Isaiah 1:9; where also it appears evident what the prophets understood by making a consummation. For God there threatens and says,

|Behold I will make a consummation;| yet he afterwards adds, |The consummation shall bring forth fruit,|

that is, what remained of the consummation. The prophets elsewhere compare the Church of God to olive -- trees when shaken, or to vines after vintage, (Isaiah 17:6; Isaiah 24:13;) for some grapes ever remain which escape the eyes of the gatherers; so also, when the olive -- trees are shaken, some fruit remain on the highest branches. Thus God says, that the consummation he makes in his Church is like the vintage or the shaking of olive -- trees, when some fruit remain and escape the eyes of the gatherers. We now perceive what the Prophet means, -- that there would be the ruin of the whole people, so that they would have neither a name nor existence as a body; which thing also happened, when they were driven as exiles into Babylon; for the people, as a civil community, then ceased to exist, so that there was an end made of them.

I indeed allow that God's threatenings cannot avail for our salvation, unless connected with the promise of pardon, so that being raised up by the hope of salvation we may flee to him: for as long as we deem God inexorable, we shun every access to him; and thus despair drives us into a rage like that of fiends. Hence it is that the reprobate rage so much against God, and make a great clamor: and they would willingly thrust him from his throne. It is therefore necessary that a hope of salvation should be set before us, so that we may be touched with repentance: and as this promise is perpetual, whatever may happen, even if earth and heaven were mixed together, and ruin on every side were filling us with dread, we must still remember that there will be ever some remnant according to the passages we have referred to in the first and tenth chapters of Isaiah. But as the people were not prepared to receive consolation, the design of the Prophet here is different, for he only mentions punishment. He afterwards adds --

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