Every battle of the warrior "The greaves of the armed warrior" - שאון שאון seon soen . This word, occurring only in this place, is oaf very doubtful signification. Schindler fairly tells us that we may guess at it by the context. The Jews have explained it, by guess I believe, as signifying battle, conflict: the Vulgate renders it violenta praedatio. But it seems as if something was rather meant which was capable of becoming fuel for the fire, together with the garments mentioned in the same sentence. In Syriac the word, as a noun, signifies a shoe, or a sandal, as a learned friend suggested to me some years ago. See Luke 15:22; Acts 12:8. I take it, therefore, to mean that part of the armor which covered the legs and feet, and I would render the two words in Latin by caliga caligati. The burning of heaps of armor, gathered from the field of battle, as an offering made to the god supposed to be the giver of victory, was a custom that prevailed among some heathen nations; and the Romans used it as an emblem of peace, which perfectly well suits with the design of the prophet in this place. A medal struck by Vespasian on finishing his wars both at home and abroad represents the goddess Peace holding an olive branch in one hand, and, with a lighted torch in the other, setting fire to a heap of armor. Virgil mentions the custom: -
" - Cum primam aciem Praeneste sub ipsa
Stravi, scutorumque incendi victor acervos."
Aen. lib. viii., ver. 561.
"Would heaven, (said he), my strength and youth recall,
Such as I was beneath Praeneste's wall -
Then when I made the foremost foes retire
And set whole heaps of conquered shields on fire."
See Addison on Medals, Series 2:18. And there are notices of some such practice among the Israelites, and other nations of the most early times. God promises to Joshua victory over the kings of Canaan. "To-morrow I will deliver them up all slain before Israel: thou shalt hough their horses, and burn their chariots with fire," Joshua 11:6. See also Nahum 2:13. And the psalmist employs this image to express complete victory, and the perfect establishment of peace: -
"He maketh wars to cease, even to the end of the land:
He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder;
And burneth the chariots in the fire.
- Psalm 46:9.
עגלות agaloth, properly plausira, impedimenta, the baggage-wagons: which however the Septuagint and Vulgate render scuta, "shields;" and the Chaldee, "round shields," to show the propriety of that sense of the word from the etymology; which, if admitted, makes the image the same with that used by the Romans.
Ezekiel, Ezekiel 39:8-10, in his bold manner has carried this image to a degree of amplification which I think hardly any other of the Hebrew poets would have attempted. He describes the burning of the arms of the enemy, in consequence of the complete victory to be obtained by the Israelites over Gog and Magog: -
"Behold, it is come to pass, and it is done,
Saith the Lord Jehovah.
This is the day of which I spoke:
And the inhabitants of the cities of Israel shall go forth.
And shall set on fire the armor, and the shield,
And the buckler, and the bow, and the arrows,
And the clubs and the lances;
And they shall set them on fire for seven years.
And they shall not bear wood from the field;
Neither shall they hew from the forest:
For of the armor shall they make their fires;
And they shall spoil their spoilers,
And they shall plunder their plunderers."
R. D. Kimchi, on this verse says this refers simply to the destruction of the Assyrians. Other battles are fought man against man, and spear against spear; and the garments are rolled in blood through the wounds given and received: but this was with burning, for the angel of the Lord smote them by night, and there was neither sword nor violent commotion, nor blood; they were food for the fire, for the angel of the Lord consumed them.
For every battle of the warrior - The expression used here has caused great difficulty, from the fact that it occurs nowhere else in the Scriptures. The word סאון se'ôn rendered here battle, is supposed to mean rather greaves, or the armor of the warrior which covered the feet and the legs. It would be literally translated, ‹Every greave of those armed with greaves.‘ - Gesenius. The Chaldee renders it, ‹Forevery gift of theirs is for evil.‘ The Syriac, ‹Forevery tumult (of battle) is heard with terror.‘ Hengstenberg renders it, ‹For all war-shoes put on at the noise of battle, all garments dipped in blood, shall be burnt, shall be the food of fire.‘ The idea, according to him, is, that the great future redemption will be like the deliverance under Gideon; ‹because, far from being accomplished by force of arms, with it all contention and war shall cease.‘ Gesenius regards the figurative expression as a general designation of that peace which shall never end. All the armor used in war shall then be burned, as being of no further use.
Is with confused noise - The word used here - רעשׁ ra‛ash - denotes, properly, a shaking, as of a spear; a concussion, tumult, noise, as of a battle. Here it is supposed to refer to the noise which the armor of the soldiers made - particularly to the noise made by the greaves, or war-shoes, worn on the feet and legs. Those greaves were fitted up; it is said, by numerous large iron hooks, or clasps, and were fastened sometimes with large nails; compare Josephus, Jewish Wars, B. vi. ch. i. section 8.
And garments - This word here refers, doubtless, to the soldier‘s cloak or blanket.
Rolled in blood - This is a description of the usual effect of war. The image of war is that of a clangor made by the armor of soldiers, and by garments that have been dipped in human blood. It is a most revolting but just image.
But this shall be - In regard to this threatened invasion and danger, this shall be the result. The meaning is this. The prophet sees the image of war and of threatened invasion. He hears the clangor of their greaves - the sound of their march; and he sees the usual emblem of battle - bloody garments. But he says here, that this invasion shall not be successful. There was no occasion of alarm. The very armor of the warrior should be burned up. The enemy should be defeated - and their greaves, and their bloody garments, should be consumed.
With burning - For burning; that is it shall be consumed.
And fuel of fire - Hebrew, ‹Food of fire.‘ This is a strong, emphatic expression - ‹it shall be to be burned - the food of fire.‘ It denotes the certainty that they would be vanquished; that the invading foe would not be successful; and that his very armory and garments would be stripped off and burned. To understand this, it is necessary to remark, that in ancient times it was customary to strip the dead which were slain in a vanquished army, and to collect their armor, their chariots, etc., and consume them. The more valued spoils of battle were reserved as the prey of the victors, or to be suspended in temples censecrated to the gods; see Psalm 46:9-10:
He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth;
He breaketh the bow;
And cutteth the spear in sunder;
He burneth the chariot in the fire.
Ezekiel has carried out this description more at length:
And the inhabitants of the cities of Israel shall go forth,
And shall set on fire and burn the weapons,
Both the shields and the bucklers,
The bows and the arrows,
And the clubs and the lances.
Zechariah has a similar figure, as descriptive of the time of the Messiah:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion;
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem;
Behold, thy king cometh unto thee.
And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim,
And the horse from Jerusalem,
And the battle bow shal be cut off, etc.
This custom prevailed among several nations. Thus Virgil:
- scutorumque incendi victor acervos.
AEneid, viii. 562.
There can be no doubt, I think, that the prophet here has his eye on the victories of the Messiah, and that he means to say, that in those victories all armor would be for fuel of fire; that is, that they would be achieved without hostile arms. Applied to the Messiah, it means either that his victories would be complete, or that in his victories all necessity of such armor would cease. According to this, the passage teaches that peace should be introduced by him without a conflict, and thus harmonizes with the numerous parallel passages in which peace is represented as a characteristic mark of the times of the Messiah, when contention, war, and destruction shall cease; see Isaiah 11:6-7.
But in that day, as in the time of Jerusalem's destruction, God's people will be delivered, everyone that shall be found written among the living. Isaiah 4:3. Christ has declared that He will come the second time to gather His faithful ones to Himself: “Then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Matthew 24:30, 31. Then shall they that obey not the gospel be consumed with the spirit of His mouth and be destroyed with the brightness of His coming. 2 Thessalonians 2:8. Like Israel of old the wicked destroy themselves; they fall by their iniquity. By a life of sin, they have placed themselves so out of harmony with God, their natures have become so debased with evil, that the manifestation of His glory is to them a consuming fire. GC 37.1
Let men beware lest they neglect the lesson conveyed to them in the words of Christ. As He warned His disciples of Jerusalem's destruction, giving them a sign of the approaching ruin, that they might make their escape; so He has warned the world of the day of final destruction and has given them tokens of its approach, that all who will may flee from the wrath to come. Jesus declares: “There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations.” Luke 21:25; Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24-26; Revelation 6:12-17. Those who behold these harbingers of His coming are to “know that it is near, even at the doors.” Matthew 24:33. “Watch ye therefore,” are His words of admonition. Mark 13:35. They that heed the warning shall not be left in darkness, that that day should overtake them unawares. But to them that will not watch, “the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” 1 Thessalonians 5:2-5. GC 37.2
The world is no more ready to credit the message for this time than were the Jews to receive the Saviour's warning concerning Jerusalem. Come when it may, the day of God will come unawares to the ungodly. When life is going on in its unvarying round; when men are absorbed in pleasure, in business, in traffic, in money-making; when religious leaders are magnifying the world's progress and enlightenment, and the people are lulled in a false security—then, as the midnight thief steals within the unguarded dwelling, so shall sudden destruction come upon the careless and ungodly, “and they shall not escape.” Verse 3. GC 38.1Read in context »
“And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every freeman, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” Revelation 6:15-17. GC 642.1
The derisive jests have ceased. Lying lips are hushed into silence. The clash of arms, the tumult of battle, “with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood” (Isaiah 9:5), is stilled. Nought now is heard but the voice of prayer and the sound of weeping and lamentation. The cry bursts forth from lips so lately scoffing: “The great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” The wicked pray to be buried beneath the rocks of the mountains rather than meet the face of Him whom they have despised and rejected. GC 642.2
That voice which penetrates the ear of the dead, they know. How often have its plaintive, tender tones called them to repentance. How often has it been heard in the touching entreaties of a friend, a brother, a Redeemer. To the rejecters of His grace no other could be so full of condemnation, so burdened with denunciation, as that voice which has so long pleaded: “Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?” Ezekiel 33:11. Oh, that it were to them the voice of a stranger! Says Jesus: “I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out My hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all My counsel, and would none of My reproof.” Proverbs 1:24, 25. That voice awakens memories which they would fain blot out—warnings despised, invitations refused, privileges slighted. GC 642.3Read in context »
Saith the Lord: “Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God; behold, therefore I will bring strangers upon thee, the terrible of the nations: and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom, and they shall defile thy brightness. They shall bring thee down to the pit.” “I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.... I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.... I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.... Thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.” Ezekiel 28:6-8, 16-19. GC 672.1
“Every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.” “The indignation of the Lord is upon all nations, and His fury upon all their armies: He hath utterly destroyed them, He hath delivered them to the slaughter.” “Upon the wicked He shall rain quick burning coals, fire and brimstone and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.” Isaiah 9:5; 34:2; Psalm 11:6, margin. Fire comes down from God out of heaven. The earth is broken up. The weapons concealed in its depths are drawn forth. Devouring flames burst from every yawning chasm. The very rocks are on fire. The day has come that shall burn as an oven. The elements melt with fervent heat, the earth also, and the works that are therein are burned up. Malachi 4:1; 2 Peter 3:10. The earth's surface seems one molten mass—a vast, seething lake of fire. It is the time of the judgment and perdition of ungodly men—“the day of the Lord's vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion.” Isaiah 34:8. GC 672.2
The wicked receive their recompense in the earth. Proverbs 11:31. They “shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 4:1. Some are destroyed as in a moment, while others suffer many days. All are punished “according to their deeds.” The sins of the righteous having been transferred to Satan, he is made to suffer not only for his own rebellion, but for all the sins which he has caused God's people to commit. His punishment is to be far greater than that of those whom he has deceived. After all have perished who fell by his deceptions, he is still to live and suffer on. In the cleansing flames the wicked are at last destroyed, root and branch—Satan the root, his followers the branches. The full penalty of the law has been visited; the demands of justice have been met; and heaven and earth, beholding, declare the righteousness of Jehovah. GC 673.1Read in context »
So it is still. Events upon which the attention of all heaven is centered are undiscerned, their very occurrence is unnoticed, by religious leaders, and worshipers in the house of God. Men acknowledge Christ in history, while they turn away from the living Christ. Christ in His word calling to self-sacrifice, in the poor and suffering who plead for relief, in the righteous cause that involves poverty and toil and reproach, is no more readily received today than He was eighteen hundred years ago. DA 56.1
Mary pondered the broad and far-reaching prophecy of Simeon. As she looked upon the child in her arms, and recalled the words spoken by the shepherds of Bethlehem, she was full of grateful joy and bright hope. Simeon's words called to her mind the prophetic utterances of Isaiah: “There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.... And righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the girdle of His reins.” “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.... For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 11:1-5; 9:2-6. DA 56.2
Yet Mary did not understand Christ's mission. Simeon had prophesied of Him as a light to lighten the Gentiles, as well as a glory to Israel. Thus the angels had announced the Saviour's birth as tidings of joy to all peoples. God was seeking to correct the narrow, Jewish conception of the Messiah's work. He desired men to behold Him, not merely as the deliverer of Israel, but as the Redeemer of the world. But many years must pass before even the mother of Jesus would understand His mission. DA 56.3Read in context »