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Commentary On Jeremiah And Lamentations Volume 1 by Jean Calvin

Jeremiah 5:12

12. They have belied the Lord, and said, It is not he; neither shall evil come upon us; neither shall we see sword nor famine:

12. Negarunt Jehovam (alii vertunt, mentiti sunt Jehovae,) et dixerunt, Non est, et non veniet super nos malum; et gladium et famem non videbimus.

He expresses more clearly and fully what he had previously said. Their perfidy was, that they had denied God I do not wholly reject what others have said, that they lied to God: but as v is here used after kchs, I cannot see that it means to lie. It ought to have been in that case, kchsv, lyhvhcacheshu La-Jeve: but as it is vyhvh, Be-Jeve, I doubt not but that he simply declares that they denied God; and the context seems to require this meaning; for he immediately adds, that they said there was no God This certainly was not to lie to God, but to reject him as one who did not exist. As then the sense would be less significant, were we to say, that they lied to God, I am inclined to take the other meaning, that they denied God; that is, that they wholly disregarded him or sought to erase the remembrance of him.

The reason which follow requires special notice: They have said, He is not To render this more clear, he says, that they boasted of impunity. It seemed, no doubt, to exceed credibility, when the Prophet said that God was denied by the Jews; but that they might not evade the charge, he continued it, they have said, He is not We are further to consider why he brought against them so grievous and so atrocious a charge: it was, because they boasted that they should be free from the punishments which the prophets had threatened.

We then see what Jeremiah alleges against them, even their contempt and also their perverseness. They felt themselves safe notwithstanding the prophetic threatenings. The Prophet says, this is nothing less than wholly to deny God. Were we judges, this declaration might appear too severe: but let us pause, and acquiesce in what the Holy Spirit has pronounced.

And this is a remarkable passage, whence we may learn how abhorred by God is their indifference, who harden themselves against his threatenings, and wholly disregard his judgment. For if we acknowledge him as God, his power as a judge ought not to be taken away. What does God's name mean? Doubtless they who imagine that God remains quiet in heaven and enjoys his leisure and his rest, though they may not in words deny God, yet treat him with mockery: there is in them at the same time no religion and no thought of a divine being. Let us then carefully notice this passage, in which the Prophet testifies that God is denied by us, except we be moved by his threatenings; for the torpidity in which we indulge ourselves, when God denounces his judgment on us, is the same as the denial of him; nor is there anything by which they can extenuate their sin who thus despise the vengeance of God. For the Holy Spirit has once for all declared, that all who trifle with the prophets do in their hearts say, that there is no God, inasmuch as they deprive him of his power and of his office, and leave him only a naked essence; nay, they make him only a creature of the imagination or a mere phantom.

We now then understand the meaning of the Prophet: he more fully explains the perfidy with which he had charged the Jews; for he says that they denied God, and said, He is not; and they proved that they did all this, for they did not believe the evil to be at hand which the prophets had announced. It afterwards follows --

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