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is stupid and sullen. "Ephraim is a silly dove without intelligence.” But this stupidity is not mere ignorance but the besotted stupidity that comes from vice and negligence. It is the natural consequence of evil doing. “Harlotry and wine take away the intelligence of my people."

"And they consider not in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness; now have their own doings beset them round about."

This is the scientific statement of it: The same truth that Dr. James has so well stated in his Psychology, "We are spinning our own fates for good or evil, never to be undone. Every smallest stroke of virtue or of vice leaves its little scar. The drunken Rip Van Winkle in Jefferson's play excuses himself for every dereliction by saying, 'I don't count this time. Well, he may not count it, but it is being counted none the less. Down among his nerve cells and fibres, the molecules are registering and storing it up to be used against him when the next temptation comes.”

Then comes the next link in the chain of evil consequences of their disobedience, the stupidity—the dullness of moral judgment—the weakness of will, and the inflamed desire make resistance to evil almost impossible. From bad to worse is the law of nature. "When he offended in Bael, he died, and now they sin more and more.”

“Things ill begun make strong themselves by ill.” So Macbeth found, and so we all must find.

Dull and insensate they lose the power to appreciate moral excellence, and even the ability to know good from evil. The only hope of recovery is by return to God. He only is able to heal them. And this he is ready and willing to do. He will come and teach you righteousness. "I will heal their backsliding. I will love them freely."

The prophecy of this book is chiefly directed to the northern kingdom-Ephraim, he calls it-but the southern kingdom is

not forgotten. The conditions there were not so bad as in the north. “Judah yet ruleth with God and is faithful with the holy one." It had not utterly forsaken God's covenant nor corrupted his worship, yet “The Lord hath a controversy with Judah and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him."

After a brief review of this wonderful history and the bountiful gifts they had received of God, the prophet cries, “Therefore, turn thou to thy God; keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually."

The knowledge of the occasion of these prophecies, and the immediate object of their deliverance; is of importance only as this knowledge helps us to fuller understanding of the revelation given.

The revelation itself is for all times and all peoples. Concrete examples make more vivid the messages which God speaks to you and me, for though times change and men change with them, God's law is unchangeable.

So the prophet closes his brief but wonderful book with the catholic commendation: "Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them; but transgressors shall fall therein."

CHAPTER XV

T

JOEL HE prophecy of Joel is a practical discourse on the subject of God's providence. The occasion of it was a devastating plague of locusts which had swept

over the land of Judah and utterly destroyed every green leaf and tender plant, leaving poverty and famine in their wake.

Such plagues are not uncommon in that region, and the innumerable hosts of these ravenous insects and the damage they do is almost beyond belief.1

This visitation of which Joel speaks seems to have been one of unexampled severity, for he appeals to the oldest inhabitants if they had ever seen or known of such; and predicts that it shall be remembered for generations as a terrible disaster.

"Hear this, ye old men, and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land.

"Hath this been in your days, or in the days of your fathers?

“Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation."

The prophet then depicts the dismay which it had brought upon the people of the land, and voices the distress of man and beast. He gives

most vivid picture of the actual event. "The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen do they run. Like the noise of chariots on the tops of the mountains do they leap; like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in

battle array.

1. For a vivid account of the plague of locusts see National Geographic Magazine Dec., 1915.

At their presence the people are in anguish.
All faces waxed pale;
They run like mighty men;
They climb the wall like men of war;
They march every one on his ways.

And they break not their ranks; neither doth one thrust another; they march every one in his path; they burst through the weapons and break not off their course.

They leap upon the city;
They run upon the wall;
They climb up unto the houses;
They enter in at the windows like a thief.
The earth quaketh before them;
The heavens tremble;
The sun and the moon are darkened,
And the stars withdraw their shining."

Now the habit of mind with all the Hebrew prophets was to attribute all the activities of nature directly to the will and act of God. They did not, as we are accustomed to do, talk of the reign of law, and personify the forces of nature. They had “the mind that looks beyond”; they thought of "God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own."

In this they were wiser than we, and more reverent. They were not childish or superstitious more than we, but simpler and more direct.

Here was a great calamity, greater than we easily imagine, for it meant actual famine for all, and starvation for many. The prophet appealed to their religious instincts when he called the people to repentance and prayer.

Even now, in our age of hard materialistic temper, when great calamities befall us, we turn somewhat shamefacedly to

call on God for help.

So the prophet exhorts the people to turn to God, not in empty, formal sacrifice, as though God might be bribed to mercy, but “Turn ye unto me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts, not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God; for he is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy, and repenteth him of evil.” And the prophet adds, "Who knoweth whether he will not turn and leave a blessing behind."

The response of the people is not recorded, but it seems to be taken for granted, for from the end of the prophet's call for repentance the record goes on immediately to a second discourse -XI:18-in which we have the gracious response of God:

“Then was the Lord jealous for his land, and had pity on his people."

"Fear not, O land, be glad and rejoice; for the Lord hath done great things. Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field; for the pastures of the wilderness do spring; for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength.

"Be glad, then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord

your God.”

On this gracious revelation of God's good will, the prophet founded a great sermon, in which he predicts increasing blessing and more abundant favor. "And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out my Spirit upon all fesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions; and also upon my servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit."

There is the intimation of great changes, tumult and disasters—“The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the great day of the Lord come.”

But the purpose of God shall go grandly on to its fulfillment.

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