This great prophet, in the days of Isaiah, prophesied of the Second Exodus (ch. 7:15-20), and provided to a faithful remnant a vision of glory beyond the sad experiences of his day.*
1 And I said, Hear, I pray you, O heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel; Is it not for you to know judgment?
Sins of the Rulers and Their Punishment. These are identified with the royal house (Jer. 21:11-12), thus more particularly relating to Judah. They should have provided a faithful example and as shepherds in Israel, helped the diseased of the flock. But instead of being shepherds, they were butchers (cp. Eze. 34:2-4).*
2 Who hate the good, and love the evil; who pluck off their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones;
3 Who also eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them; and they break their bones, and chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and as flesh within the caldron.
4 Then shall they cry unto Yahweh, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings.
Sins of the False Prophets Leading to a Darkened Vision
5 Thus saith Yahweh concerning the prophets that make my people err, that bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace; and he that putteth not into their mouths, they even prepare war against him.
6 Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them.
...prophecy fulfilled is a more powerful testimony of the divinity of our foundation, than would be prophecy uttered in our midst; for in that case, we should have to wait to see if it came to pass, whereas here is the evidence complete before our eyes of the truth of what Paul says, that God
" at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets .. "
Non-thinking, or unprincipled men, affect to make light of fulfilled prophecy, as if it proved nothing. No man, exercising a competent reason, can think in this manner. It requires but a moment's reflection to perceive that there is no prophetic power in the earth at the present time.
There are two features in English public life that would be sure, under the strain of human avarice, to have brought it to the front, if it had existed anywhere-the Stock Exchange and racecourse. We are all aware that a day's foreknowledge, in either of these institutions would enable its possessor to make a fortune at a sweep.
Yet behold the helplessness of the astutest of men with regard to the events of twenty-four hours ahead! Why is it that, with the highest development of the human intellect, and the profoundest knowledge of nature yet attained in human history, there should be a total absence of prophetic power, while this prophetic power was a common feature of Jewish history up to a certain point?
It is evident there was a something operating then that is not operating now. The Jewish race are as numerous now as then, yet the Jews are as barren as the Gentiles of the prophetic gift. The Jews have had no prophets among them for 1,800 years. What is the explanation? It is furnished by a prophecy in Amos (8 : II), where, amongst other consequences of Israel's incorrigible disobedience, this is decreed·:
"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread; nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: and they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it."
By Micah also (chapter 3 : 6-7) it was foretold that vision should cease, and that there should be no answer from God. By this the disappearance of prophecy is explained; but, at the same time, the divinity of former prophecy fulfilled, and the strangest of all prophecy, a prophecy that prophecy should cease for a time.
7 Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded: yea, they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer of God.
There would be an eclipse of the sun (v. 6) in the overthrow of the State, and the dispersion of the people. Thus, the people would "cover their lips" as a leprous man, for they were in a diseased state due to the apostate teachings of the false prophets.*
8 But truly I am full of power by the spirit of Yahweh, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.
The Cause of Zion's Decline: vv. 9-12
9 Hear this, I pray you, ye heads of the house of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel, that abhor judgment, and pervert all equity.
10 They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity.
11 The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord among us? none evil can come upon us.
Wickedness now permeated the community of the ecclesia. Its leaders took bribes (v. 11), established their dominance by oppressing their fellows, and acting violently against them (v. 10), and claimed that as long as they had the physical evidence of God's presence (the temple in Jerusalem; v. 11) "no evil can come," and they would be preserved.*
12 Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest.
Josephus records this was fulfilled following the sacking of Jerusalem by Titus.