One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.…
The voice of suffering innocence does not pass unheeded. The Lord of sabaoth is long-suffering and very merciful, even towards the disobedient and towards the enemies of the truth; but the angels of judgment and punishment, bound and restrained, must at length be loosed. Though the Lord suffereth long and is kind, yet he will avenge his own elect which cry to him day and night. We learn -
I. THAT THE END OF JUDGMENT IS REPENTANCE. This is the object always kept in view by him who judgeth right. All his judgments are therefore blessings in disguise. "He doth not willingly afflict." The cry from them who suffer wrongfully is not immediately answered in judgment upon their oppressors. He can requite his own in other ways. Yet, though judgment be stayed against an evil work, it is finally "loosed," lest the hearts of men be set in them wholly to do evil.
II. THAT THEY WHO PLACE THEMSELVES IN OPPOSITION TO THE SERVANTS OF TRUTH EXPOSE THEMSELVES TO THE JUST AND TERRIBLE JUDGMENTS OF GOD. Even the prayers of the righteous, which are accepted before the throne, cry for vengeance. The evil workers who place themselves in antagonism to the struggling Church are met, not only by the feeble arm of "the little flock," but by the might of him who, as a good Shepherd, defends even with his life them who are his own sheep.
III. THAT EVEN THE SEVERITIES OF JUDGMENT ARE INSUFFICIENT TO LEAD ALL TO REPENTANCE. That many are saved through the judgment is obvious to all observers. Yet is there a hardness of heart that seems to increase by the pressure of outward calamity. All do not see the Divine hand in the meted judgment; and many rise in greater rebellion by how much the strokes of that hand are severe. "The rest of mankind, which were not killed with these plagues, repented not of the works of their hands."
IV. We further learn that IT IS THROUGH DEVOTION TO EVIL THAT MEN ARE PREVENTED FROM REPENTANCE. Men harden their hearts even in the midst of Heaven's fiery judgments. Many happily learn righteousness, and repent of their evil ways, but of some - "the rest" - alas! always a remnant - it is to be said, "They repented not." They are devoted to evil. They are the willing slaves of lust and vice. They are greedy to do iniquity. The fiendish spirit finds its embodiment in them, and men are as though possessed with devils. If these are to be saved, other means must be devised. - R.G.
Parallel VersesKJV: One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.