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Commentary On Jeremiah And Lamentations Volume 2 by Jean Calvin

Jeremiah 16:21

21. Therefore, behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know that my nameis The LORD.

21. Propterea ecce ego cognoscere faciam ipsos hac vice, ostendam ipsis (cognoscere ipsos faciam) manum meam et potentiam meam; et cognoscent quod nomen meum Jehova.

The Prophet again threatens the Jews, because their impiety was inexcusable, especially when attended with so great an obstinacy, he therefore says that God was already present as a judge: Behold I, he says -- the demonstrative particle shews the near approach of vengeance -- I will shew at this time: the words are emphatical, for God indirectly intimates that the Babylonian exile would be an extraordinary event, far exceeding every other which had preceded it. At this time, he says -- that is, if ye have hitherto been tardy and insensible, or, if the punishments I have already inflicted have not been sufficiently severe -- I will at this time shew to them my hand and my power; and they shall know that my name is Jehovah

This way of speaking often occurs in Scripture; but God here, no doubt, reproves the false sentiments with which the Jews were imbued, and by which they were led astray from true religion -- for they had devised for themselves many gods; hence he says, They shall know that my name is Jehovah, that is, that my name is sacred, and ought not to be given to others. But at the same time he intimates that he would shew to them his power by destroying them, which they had refused to acknowledge in the preservation promised to them. They would indeed have ever found the God of Abraham to be the same, had they not deprived themselves of his favor. As then they had wandered after their own delusions and inventions, God says now, I will shew to them my hand, that is, for their ruin; and they shall now know for their own misery what they had refused to acknowledge for their own safety -- that I am the only true God.

Here let us first learn that it was wholly a diabolical madness, when men dared to devise for themselves a god; for had they regarded their own beginning and their own end, doubtless they could not have betrayed so much presumption and audacity as to invent a god for themselves. If this only came to the mind of an idolater, |What art thou? whence is thine origin? where goest thou, and what end awaits thee?| all his false imaginations would have instantly fallen to the ground; he would no longer think of forming a god for himself, nor of worshipping anything he might invent. How then does it happen that men proceed to such a madness as to devise gods for themselves, according to their own fancies, except that they know not themselves? It is then no wonder that men are blind in seeking God, when they do not consider nor examine themselves. It hence follows that God cannot be rightly worshipped except men are made humble. And humility is the best preparation for faith, that there may be a submission to the word of God. Idolaters do indeed pretend some kind of humility, but they afterwards involve themselves in such stupidity, that they are unwining to make any enquiry, so as to make any difference between light and darkness. But true humility leads us to seek God in his word.

But when the Prophet asks this question, |Shall man make a god for himself?| he does not mean, that either the Egyptians or the Assyrians were so ignorant as to think that they could give divinity to wood or stone; but that whatever men dared to invent for themselves as to divine worship, was nothing else but the creation of a god. As soon then as we allow ourselves the liberty to worship God in this or in that way, or to imagine God to be such and such a being, we create gods for ourselves. And as to that point where he says, They shall know that my name is Jehovah, we must observe, that what is his own is taken away from God, except we acquiesce in him alone, so as to allow no other divinities to creep in and to be received; for God does not retain his own right or his own glory, except he be regarded as the only true God. Now follows --

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