We have, in these verses, a further description of those terrible desolations which the king of Babylon with his armies should make in all the countries and nations round about Jerusalem. In Jerusalem God had erected his temple; there were his oracles and ordinances, which the neighbouring nations should have attended to and might have received benefit by; thither they should have applied for the knowledge of God and their duty, and then they might have had reason to bless God for their neighbourhood to Jerusalem; but they, instead of that, taking all opportunities either to debauch or to disturb that holy city, when God came to reckon with Jerusalem because it learned so much of the way of the nations, he reckoned with the nations because they learned so little of the way of Jerusalem.
They will soon be aware of Nebuchadrezzar’s making war upon them; but the prophet is here directed to tell them that it is God himself that makes war upon them, a God with whom there is no contending. 1. The war is here proclaimed (Jer. 25:30): The Lord shall roar from on high; not from Mount Zion and Jerusalem (as Joel 3:16; Amos 1:2), but from heaven, from his holy habitation there; for now Jerusalem is one of the places against which he roars. He shall mightily roar upon his habitation on earth from that above. He has been long silent, and seemed not to take notice of the wickedness of the nations; the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now he shall give a shout, as the assailants in battle do, against all the inhabitants of the earth, to whom it shall be a shout of terror, and yet a shout of joy in heaven, as theirs that tread the grapes; for, when God is reckoning with the proud enemies of his kingdom among men, there is a great voice of much people heard in heaven, saying, Hallelujah, Rev. 19:1. He roars as a lion (Amos 3:4, 8), as a lion that has forsaken his covert (Jer. 25:38), and is going abroad to seek his prey, upon which he roars, that he may the more easily seize it. 2. The manifesto is here published, showing the causes and reasons why God proclaims this war (Jer. 25:31): The Lord has a controversy with the nations; he has just cause to contend with them, and he will take this way of pleading with them. His quarrel with them is, in one word, for their wickedness, their contempt of him, and his authority over them and kindness to them. He will give those that are wicked to the sword. They have provoked God to anger, and thence comes all this destruction; it is because of the fierce anger of the Lord (Jer. 25:37, 38), the fierceness of the oppressor, or (as it might better be read) the fierceness of the oppressing sword (for the word is feminine) is because of his fierce anger; and we are sure that he is never angry without cause; but who knows the power of his anger? 3. The alarm is here given and taken: A noise will come even to the ends of the earth, so loud shall it roar, so far shall it reach, Jer. 25:31. The alarm is not given by sound of trumpet, or beat of drum, but by a whirlwind, a great whirlwind, storm, or tempest, which shall be raised up from the coasts, the remote coasts of the earth, Jer. 25:32. The Chaldean army shall be like a hurricane raised in the north, but thence carried on with incredible fierceness and swiftness, bearing down all before it. It is like the whirlwind out of which God answered Job, which was exceedingly terrible, Job 37:1; 38:1. And, when the wrath of God thus roars like a lion from heaven, no marvel if it be echoed with shrieks from earth; for who can choose but tremble when God thus speaks in displeasure? See Hos. 11:10. Now the shepherds shall howl and cry, the kings, and princes, and the great ones of the earth, the principal of the flock. They used to be the most courageous and secure, but now their hearts shall fail them; they shall wallow themselves in the ashes, Jer. 25:34. Seeing themselves utterly unable to make head against the enemy, and seeing their country, which they have the charge of and a concern for, inevitably ruined, they shall abandon themselves to sorrow. There shall be a voice of the cry of the shepherds, and a howling of the principal of the flock shall be heard, Jer. 25:36. Those are great calamities indeed that strike such a terror upon the great men, and put them into this consternation. The Lord hath spoiled their pasture, in which they fed their flock, and out of which they fed themselves; the spoiling of that makes them cry-out thus. Perhaps, carrying on the metaphor of a lion roaring, it alludes to the great fright that shepherds are in when they hear a roaring lion coming towards their flocks, and find they have no way to flee (Jer. 25:35) for their own safety, neither can the principal of their flock escape. The enemy will be so numerous, so furious, so sedulous, and the extent of their armies so vast, that it will be impossible to avoid falling into their hands. Note, As we cannot out-face, so we cannot out-run, the judgments of God. This is that for which the shepherds howl and cry. 4. The progress of this war is here described (Jer. 25:32): Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation; as the cup goes round, every nation shall have its share and take warning by the calamities of another to repent and reform. Nay, as if this ere to be a little representation of the last and general judgment, it shall reach from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth, Jer. 25:33. The day of vengeance is in his heart, and now his hand shall find out all his enemies, wherever they are, Ps. 21:8. Note, When our neighbour’s house is on fire it is time to be concerned for our own. When one nation is a seat of war every neighbouring nation should hear, and fear, and make its peace with God. 5. The dismal consequences of this war are here foretold: The days of slaughter and dispersions are accomplished, that is, they are fully come (Jer. 25:34), the time fixed in the divine counsel for the slaughter of some and the dispersion of the rest, which will make the nations completely desolate. Multitudes shall fall by the sword of the merciless Chaldeans, so that the slain of the Lord shall be every where found: they are slain by commission from him, and are sacrificed to his justice. The slain for sin are the slain of the Lord. To complete the misery of their slaughter, they shall not be lamented in particular, so general shall the matter of lamentation be. Nay, they shall not be gathered up, nor buried, for they shall have no friends left to bury them, and the enemies shall not have so much humanity in them as to do it; and then they shall be as dung upon the earth, so vile and noisome: and it is well if, as dung manures the earth and makes it fruitful, so these horrid spectacles, which lie as monuments of divine justice, might be a means to awaken the inhabitants of the earth to learn righteousness. The effect of this war will be the desolation of the whole land that is the seat of it (Jer. 25:38), one land after another. But here are two expressions more that seem to make the case in a particular manner piteous. (1.) You shall fall like a pleasant vessel, Jer. 25:34. The most desirable persons among them, who most valued themselves and were most valued, who were looked upon as vessels of honour, shall fall by the sword. You shall fall as a Venice glass or a China dish, which is soon broken all to pieces. Even the tender and delicate shall share in the common calamity; the sword devours one as well as another. (2.) Even the peaceable habitations are cut down. Those that used to be quiet, and not molested, the habitations in which you have long dwelt in peace, shall now be no longer such, but cut down by the war. Or, Those who used to be quiet, and not molesting any of their neighbours, those who lived in peace, easily, and gave no provocation to any, even those shall not escape. This is one of the direful effects of war, that even those who were most harmless and inoffensive suffer hard things. Blessed be God, there is a peaceable habitation above for all the sons of peace, which is out of the reach of fire and sword.