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Commentary On Joel Amos Obadiah by Jean Calvin

Amos 4:9

9. I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the palmerworm devoured them: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord

9. Percussi vos Orientali vento et rubigine; magnos hortos vestros et vites vestros et ficulneas vestras et oliveta vestra voravit bruchus (vel, eruca;) et non reversi estis usque ad me, dicit Jehova.

Though one kind of punishment may not convince men, they are yet thereby proved with sufficient clearness to be guilty before God. But when in various ways he urges them, and after having tried in vain to correct them in one way, he has recourse to another, and still effects nothing, it hence more fully appears that they, who are thus ever unmoved, and remain stupid whatever means God may adopt to lead them to repentance, are altogether past recovery. This is the drift of what the Prophet now adds: he says that they had been smitten by the east wind He shows that want of food does not always proceed from one cause; for men become hardened when they feel only one evil: as the case is when a country labors under a drought, it will be thought to be as it were its fate. But when God chastises men in various ways, they ought then no doubt to be touched and really affected: when, on the contrary, they pass by all punishments with their eyes closed, it is certain, that they are wholly obstinate and so fascinated by the devil, that they feel nothing and discern nothing. This is the reason why the Prophet records the various punishments which had been already inflicted on the people.

Hence he says now, that they had been smitten by the east wind, and by the mildew. What mischief the mildew does to the standing corn, we know; when the sun rises after a cold rain, it burns out its substance, so that the ears grow yellow, and rottenness follows. God then says, that the standing corn of the people had been destroyed by this blasting, after dryness had already prevailed though not through the whole land in an equal degree; for God rained on one part, while a neighboring region was parched through want of rain: the Prophet having stated this, now mentions also the mildew.

He says further, that the fig-trees and vines had been consumed, that the gardens had been destroyed, and that the olive trees had been devoured by chafers or palmer worms. Since then the Israelites had been in so many ways warned, was it not a strange and monstrous blindness, that being affrighted they could bear these chastisements of God, and be not moved to return to the right way? If the first chastisement had no effect, if the second also had been without fruit, they ought surely at last to have repented; but as they proceeded in their usual course, and continued like themselves in that contumacy of which we have spoken, what any more remained for them, but to be wholly destroyed as those who had trifled with God? We now then understand what the Prophet means.

Moreover, this passage teaches, as other similar passages do, that seasons vary not by chance; that now drought prevails, and then continual rains destroy the fruits of the earth, that now chafers are produced, and then that heaven is filled with various infections, -- that these things happen not by chance, is what this passage clearly shows: but that they are so many tokens of God's wrath, set before our eyes. God indeed does not govern the world, according to what profane men think, as though he gave uncontrolled license both in heaven and earth; but he now withholds rain, then he pours it down in profusion; he now burns the corn with heat, then he temperates the air; he now shows himself kind to men, then he shows himself angry with them. Let us then learn to refer the whole order of nature to the special providence of God. I mention his special providence, lest we should dream only of some general operation, as ungodly men do: but let us know that God would have himself to be seen in daily events, so that the tokens of his love may make us to rejoice, and also that the tokens of his wrath may humble us, to the end that we may repent. Let this then be learnt from the present words of the Prophet.

Amos further teaches us, that wind and rain, hail and droughts heat and cold, are arms or weapons by which God executes vengeance on account of our sins. Whenever God then intends to inflict punishment on us, he puts on his armor, that is, he sends either rain, or wind, or drought, or heat, or hail. Since it is so, let us not think that either rain or heat is fortuitous, or that they depend on the situation of the stars as ungodly men imagine. Let us therefore know, that all nature so obeys God's command, that when rain falls seasonably, it is a token of his love towards us, and that when it is unseasonable, it is a proof of his displeasure. It is meet to think the same of heat and of cold, and of all other things. Let us now go on with the words of the Prophet --

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