Woe to him that builds a town with blood, and establishes a city by iniquity!…
Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by iniquity! Behold, is it not of the Lord of hosts that the people shall labour in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity? For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. Notice -
I. THE NATIONAL WRONGS INDICATED IN THESE VERSES. The great wrong referred to in these verses is the accumulation of gain by wicked means. "Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by iniquity!" In itself there is nothing improper in building towns, establishing cities, and accumulating wealth. Indeed, all these things are both legitimate and desirable. But it is stated that these Babylonians did it:
1. By violence. "With blood." Men's lives were sacrificed for the purpose. "By iniquity." Justice was outraged in the effort.
2. By cruelty. "Labour in the very fire." These wrongs we have already explained in the preceding sections. (But see a different explanation of "labour in the fire" in the Exposition.)
II. THE NATIONAL WOES INDICATED IN THESE WORDS. What is the woe? Disapprobation of. God.
1. These wrongs are contrary to his nature. "Is it not of the Lord of hosts?" or, as Keil renders it, "Is it not beheld from Jehovah of hosts that the people weary themselves for fire, and nations exhaust themselves from vanity?" He does not desire it. Nay, it is hostile to his will, it is displeasing to his nature. The benevolent Creator is against all social injustice and cruelty. His will is that men should "do unto others as they would that men should do unto them."
2. These wrongs are contrary to his purpose for the world. His purpose is that the "earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord." To this end the kingdom of the world which is hostile to him must be destroyed. "This promise," says Keil, "involves a threat directed against the Chaldean, whose usurped glory must be destroyed in order that the glory of the universe may fill the whole earth." What a glorious prospect!
(1) This world, in the future, is to enjoy the greatest blessing. What is that? The knowledge of the glory of God. Knowledge in itself is a blessing. The soul without it is not good (Proverbs 19:2). It is not the mere knowledge of the works of God. This is of unspeakable value. Not merely the knowledge of some of the attributes of God. This is of greater value still. But the knowledge of the glory of God, which means the knowledge of God himself, "whom to know is life eternal."
(2) This world, in the future, is to enjoy the greatest blessing in the greatest abundance. "As the waters cover the sea." He shall flood all souls with its celestial and transporting radiance. - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by iniquity!