34. And as for the prophet, and the priest, and the people, that shall say, The burden of the LORD, I will even punish that man and his house.
34. Et propheta et sacerdos et populus qui dixerit, Onus Jehovae, visitabo super virum illum (hoc est, quicunque fuerit, sive propheta, sive sacerdos, sive homo quispiam vulgaris, visitabo super virum illum,) et super domum ejus.
Prophecy might indeed have been called a burden, when anything sad was announced; but it might also have been so called, when men were aroused to fear God, or when they were exhorted to repent. But God has a reference here to that wicked impiety, when men dared in ridicule to call any prophecy a burden. And hence it appears, that they were all so given up to their sins, that the very name of God's judgment was hated by them. We now then perceive the Prophet's meaning when he said, that God would punish all those who called his word a burden; for the Prophets themselves were wont to speak thus; and we find that Jeremiah in many places used this word. He does not then speak here generally, but points out, as by the finger, a vice which prevailed; for the Jews had so hardened themselves in hatred to sound doctrine, that they said, |He! these Prophets do nothing but terrify us by threatenings and by denouncing ruin on us; and what will be the end of all this?| God says, that he would take punishment on all who thus spoke and on all their families. It hence appears how much he abominated this blasphemy; and hence also we see how precious to God is the honor of his word; for it is not of every kind of sin that God speaks when he extends his vengeance to posterity. It is the same thing as though Jeremiah had said, |It is altogether intolerable, when men became irritated and exasperated against God's word.| And yet this evil is not an evil of one age only. We see that the Israelites ever complained of God's rigor; hence that saying,
|The ways of the Lord are not tortuous, but rather your ways, O house of Israel.|
And here we must notice the wickedness of the human mind; for God, as it has been before stated, has nothing else in view by calling us to himself, but to make us partakers of eternal life and salvation. It is then God's design to receive us for the purpose or saving us; this is the end intended by, all the prophets; and hence the Prophet called before the word of God wheat; but what is done by men? They despise this favor; and not only so, but turn food into poison and cease not to provoke God's wrath. He was, therefore, constrained to threaten them. When he finds us teachable, he allures us to himself even with paternal kindness. But when we provoke him to wrath, we in a manner force him to put on another character, according to what he says, that he will be refractory towards the refractory. (Psalm 18:26.) Yet we complain when God deals rigidly with us. We cease not to carry on war with him; but when he restrains and checks our insolence, we immediately expostulate with him, as though he were too severe and his word offended us. Whence is this offense? even from our obstinate wickedness. Were men to put an end to their sinful course, the Lord would change his manner of dealing with them, and gently treat them and foster them as chickens under his wings; but this they suffer not; nay, they reject such a treatment as much as they can. Hence it is, that they abhor the name of God and his word. What then is the excuse for the complaint, when they say that God is too rigorous, as though his word were a burden? There is none; for they are themselves refractory against God, and thus his word becomes a hammer to break their heads, to shatter and destroy them. We now see the reason why God not only declares that he was angry with these ungodly despisers of his word, but also denounces the same vengeance on their posterity.