(Calvin, Commentary on Amos, part 21) Lecture Sixty-ninth. In yesterday's Lecture, we could not finish the verse in which Amos says, that the Idumeans and other nations would come under the power of the people of God. As to the first clause there is no ambiguity, but the latter admits of two meanings. Some take its sense to be this, "Other nations on whom my name is called:" and others refer this to the children of Abraham in this way, "That possess the remnants of Edom and all nations they may, upon whom," &c.; that is, that they on whom my name is called, even the descendants of Abraham, may possess the Idumeans and all other nations. If we choose the reference to be made to the chosen people, the order of the words seems to be somewhat broken; and yet this sense is very suitable, - that possess their enemies the faithful may, on whom my name is called; for the reason appears to be here expressed by the Prophet, why he promised a large kingdom to the Israelites, and that is, because they were enrolled in God's name, the Lord owned them as his people, inasmuch as he had chosen and adopted them in the person of their father Abraham. But if the other view be more approved, then the particle "'asher" is not, as I think, a pronoun relative, but an adverb expressing a cause, "That they may possess the remnants of Edom and all nations, for my name shall have been, or shall be, called on them:" for who can have possession of this right or title but those who, having been aliens, shall pass over into the family of Abraham? Israel is indeed said to possess whatever comes from another quarter, and is incorporated into the body of the Church. But on this point I will not contend; for this main thing is evident to us, - that the extension of the kingdom under Christ is here promised as though he had said that the Jews were included within narrow bounds, even when the kingdom of David especially flourished, but that God would under Christ extend their borders, and cause them to rule far and wide. What it is to call God's name on a people, we have elsewhere stated. Let us now go on with the context. Amos 9:13 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. Here the Prophet describes the felicity which shall be under the reign of Christ: and we know that whenever the Prophets set forth promises of a happy and prosperous state to God's people, they adopt metaphorical expressions, and say, that abundance of all good things shall flow, that there shall be the most fruitful produce, that provisions shall be bountifully supplied; for they accommodated their mode of speaking to the notions of that ancient people; it is therefore no wonders if they sometimes speak to them as to children. At the same time, the Spirit under these figurative expressions declares, that the kingdom of Christ shall in every way be happy and blessed, or that the Church of God, which means the same thing, shall be blessed, when Christ shall begin to reign. Hence he says, "Coming are the days, saith Jehovah, and the plowman shall draw nigh, or meet, the reaper". The Prophet no doubt refers to the blessing mentioned by Moses in Lev. 26: for the Prophets borrowed thence their mode of speaking, to add more credit and authority to what they taught. And Moses uses nearly the same words, - that the vintage shall meet the harvest, and also that sowing shall meet the plowing: and this is the case, when God supplies abundance of corn and wine, and when the season is pleasant and favorable. We then see what the Prophet means, that is, that God would so bless his people, that he would suffer no lack of good things. "The plowman then shall come nigh the reaper; and the treader of grapes, the bearer of seed". When they shall finish the harvest, they shall begin to plow, for the season will be most favorable; and then when they shall complete their vintage, they shall sow. Thus the fruitfulness, as I have said, of all produce is mentioned. The Prophet now speaks in a hyperbolical language, and says, "Mountains shall drop sweetness, and all the hills shall melt", that is, milk shall flow down. We indeed know that this has never happened; but this manner of speaking is common and often occurs in Scripture. The sum of the whole is, that there will be no common or ordinary abundance of blessings, but what will exceed belief, and even the course of nature, as the very mountains shall as it were flow down. It now follows - Amos 9:14 And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit [them]; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. As the prophecy we have noticed was one difficult to be believed, especially when the people were led away into exile, the Prophet comes to the help of this lack of faith, and shows that this would be no hindrance to God to lead his people to the felicity of which he speaks. These things seem indeed to be quite contrary, the one to the other, - that the people, spoiled of all dignity, should be driven to a far country to live in miserable exile, and that they should also be scattered into various parts and oppressed by base tyranny; - and that at the same time a most flourishing condition should be promised them, and that such an extension of their kingdom should be promised them, as had never been previously witnessed. Lest then their present calamities should fill their minds with fear and bind them fast in despair; he says that the Israelites shall return from exile, not indeed all; but as we have already seen, this promise is addressed to the elect alone: at the same time he speaks here simply of the people. But, this prophecy is connected with other prophecies: it ought not therefore to be extended except to that remnant seed, of whom we have before taken notice. "Restore then will I the captivity of my people Israel"; and then, "They shall build nested cities and dwell there; they shall plant vineyards, and their wine shall they drink; they shall make gardens, and shall eat their fruit". He reminds the people here of the blessings mentioned in the Law. They must indeed have known that the hand of the Lord was opposed to them in their exile. Hence the Prophet now shows, that as soon as the Lord would again begin to be propitious to them, there would be a new state of things; for when God shows his smiling countenance, prosperity follows and a blessed success in all things. This then is what the Prophet now intends to show, that the miserable exiles might not faint in despair, when the Lord chastised them. It follows at last - Amos 9:15 And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God. The Prophet further mentions here a quiet dwellings in the land, for it was not enough for the people to be restored to their country, except they lived there in safety and quietness; for they might soon afterwards have been removed again. It would have been better for them to pine away in exile, than to be restored for the sake, as it were, of sporting with them, and in a short time to be again conquered by their enemies, and to be led away into another country. Therefore the Prophet says, that the people, when restored, would be in a state of tranquillity. And he uses a most suitable comparison, when he says, "I will plant them in their own land, nor shall they be pulled up any more": for how can we have a settled place to dwell in, except the Lord locates us somewhere? We are indeed as it were flitting beings on the earth, and we may at any moment be tossed here and there as the chaff. We have therefore no settled dwelling, except as far as we are planted by the hand of God, or as far as God assigns to us a certain habitation, and is pleased to make us rest in quietness. This is what the Prophet means by saying, "I will plant them in their own land, nor shall they any more be pulled up". How so? "Because, he says, I have given to them the land". He had indeed given it to them before, but he suffered them to be pulled up when they had polluted the land. But now God declares that his grace would outweigh the sins of the people; as though he said, "However unworthy the people are, who dwell in this land, my gift will yet be effectual: for I will not regard what they deserve at my hands, but as I have given them this land, they shall obtain it." We now apprehend the meaning of the Prophet. Now, if we look on what afterwards happened, it may appear that this prophecy has never been fulfilled. The Jews indeed returned to their own country, but it was only a small number: and besides, it was so far from being the case, that they ruled over neighbouring nations, that they became on the contrary tributaries to them: and further still, the limits of their rule were ever narrow, even when they were able to shake off the yoke. In what sense then has God promised what we have just explained? We see this when we come to Christ; for it will then be evident that nothing has been in vain foretold: though the Jews have not ruled as to the outward appearance, yet the kingdom of God was then propagated among all nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun; and then, as we have said in other places, the Jews reigned. Further, what is here said of the abundance of corn and wine, must be explained with reference to the nature of Christ's kingdom. As then the kingdom of Christ is spiritual, it is enough for us, that it abounds in spiritual blessings: and the Jews, whom God reserved for himself as a remnant, were satisfied with this spiritual abundance. If any one objects and says, that the Prophet does not speak here allegorically; the answer is ready at hand, even this, - that it is a manner of speaking everywhere found in Scripture, that a happy state is painted as it were before our eyes, by setting before us the conveniences of the present life and earthly blessings: this may especially be observed in the Prophets, for they accommodated their style, as we have already stated, to the capacities of a rude and weak people. But as this subject has been discussed elsewhere more at large, I only touch on it now as in passing and lightly. Now follows the Prophecy of Obadiah, who is commonly called Abdiah. End of the Commentaries on Amos. Calvin, Commentary on Amos (... end) -------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-4/cvams-21.txt .