For, behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, does take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread…
We have a vivid picture here of -
I. NATIONAL ANARCHY.
1. Its cause is found in national rebellion against its rightful Lord. "Their tongue and their doings are against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of his glory" (ver. 8). Sin, both in word and deed, draws down the righteous indignation of God, and, under his just administration, the penalty of iniquity is paid.
2. Its signs are seen in:
(1) The loss of all fitting leaders (vers. 1-3). Those who constituted "the stay and the staff" are no longer found in positions of authority; those capable of ruling, those qualified to direct and to advise, those who have learnt political sagacity by long experience, - these are not to be obtained; they have been deported, or they have withdrawn, or they are no more trained.
(2) The consequent elevation of the incapable (ver. 4). Those hold the high offices of state who are utterly incompetent to fill the lasts they have accepted.
(3) The presence of injustice and confusion (ver. 5). Instead of all doing that which is conscientious and right as between man and man, every one seeks to overreach his neighbor; fraud and violence are the rule rather than the exception; and instead of the natural subordination of the younger to the elder, there is insolence and presumption.
(4) The absence of unselfish patriotism (vers. 6, 7). They who are in a position to render help refuse to do so, untruly and unworthily excusing themselves.
3. Its issue. (Ver. 8.) "Jerusalem is being ruined (is ruined); Judah is falling (is fallen)." Bad as things are, they are not at their very worst; there remains a darker and sadder catastrophe yet to complete the destruction; and that, viz. dreary exile for the people and depopulation for the land, will soon arrive.
II. SPIRITUAL ANARCHY. We trace the same cause here as in the case of the ruined nation.
1. Its cause is in rebellion against God, and his consequent high displeasure showing itself in just and appropriate penalty (ver. 8). 2. Its signs are found in:
(1) The dethronement of the soul's true authorities: conscience, which directs us what we ought to do; reason, which leads us in the path in which it is wise to walk; pure affection, which draws us toward the objects we do well to love (vers. 1-3). When sin does its work within, these powers which were meant to rule are supplanted by unworthy rivals.
(2) The enthronement of the unfitting (ver. 4). As unsuited to govern a human soul are the rude, uncultured appetites and passions of our lower nature as are "children" and babes to rule over the great affairs of state.
(3) Internal struggle and insubordination (ver. 5). The animal appetites asserting themselves unduly and violently against spiritual aspirations and holy principles, and doing them dishonor.
(4) Appeal, without response, to our better nature (vers. 6, 7). It is one of the last stages in spiritual demoralization when an earnest, strenuous challenge is made to that which is left in the soul of the heavenly and Divine, and it makes no response, or none, but a miserable resort to that which is false. There is little hope left then; the last sparks are expiring:
3. Its issue. (Ver. 8.) A human spirit in such a state is hastening fast to utter and irretrievable ruin. It is in the very act of falling; it is coming to the ground, to be utterly humiliated and broken. It may be perhaps that on earth a soul is never in such complete ruin but that it may be repaired. Yet there are those who have fallen into such disorder that it may be said that the last destruction overhangs them. To such the Master's warning words may well be uttered (see Luke 17:31, 32); for they must flee for their life, not losing a moment in starting, nor looking behind them when on their way. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: For, behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water,