On “Return, you sons, and when you return I will heal your afflictions,” up to, “for these things gird yourselves with sack clothes.”
It is written clearly in the Acts of the Apostles that the Apostles first came into the synagogues of the Jews, announcing to them, as descendents of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, what had been written concerning the coming of Jesus Christ. But when these did not receive what was said, it was necessary that there be other hearers of what was said. Then after explaining to them, they left them. For it was written that there ought to be announced to you the word of God. But since you did not think yourselves worthy, behold we turn to the pagan nations. Though this is clearly mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, it has been said implicitly very often by the Prophets. For the Holy Spirit primarily speaks through the Prophets to those people, but if at some point, after having said many things, he is not heard, he prophesies to the pagan nations the word which was preached.
(2) And this is also reflected at the beginning of what was read today, since it is said just before to those from Israel: “And you will call me father and not turn away from me, for as a wife shows disdain toward him who lives with her, so also the house of Israel has shown disdain toward me,” says the Lord. And when these statements concerning Israel were originally said and the sons of Israel heard that they were unrighteous in their ways and forgot their holy God, then the Holy Spirit next places the word among us who are from the pagan nations and says, Return, you sons, and when you return I will heal your afflictions. For we are those who are filled with afflictions. For each, once cleansed and recovered from the afflictions, would say: We were once unbelieving, foolish, deceitful, slaves to many desires and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, a loathed people who hated others. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, by a washing of regeneration, he poured out his mercy upon us. And indeed, though that text of the Apostle was mentioned once before, I am persuaded to present it more clearly. For he did not say: “for we then were foolish and deceitful.” But Paul, the Apostle from Israel, one blameless according to the justice in the Law does say: For we also, those from Israel, were then deceitful, foolish. So not only those from the pagan nations were foolish, nor only those from the pagan nations were deceitful, nor only sinners, but we also, who have been taught the Law, were such before the coming of Christ. Thus, after the words are spoken to Israel, it is said to us from the pagan nations: Return, you sons, and when you return, I will heal your afflictions.
2. But someone will say: “These statements are said to Israel, but you apply them to those from the pagan nations.” We wish to suggest that when he wants to speak to Israel about what concerns conversion, he applies the name of Israel not after many words, but immediately.
(2) So next he says: “If Israel returns to me,” the Lord says, “he will return himself, and if he takes away his abominations from his mouth, and he is awed by my presence, and he will swear: ‘The Lord lives, with truth and in justice and in righteousness,’ then the pagan nations will bless themselves in him.” The former was said to those from the pagan nations, then the following to Israel, since, according to the statements made by the Apostle in the Epistle to the Romans, if the full number of the pagan nations come in, then all of Israel will be saved.
(3) Note how God encourages us who return to return completely, promising that if we who return will return to him, he will heal our afflictions through Jesus Christ. But we are neither hesitant nor slow to act with respect to salvation, as that Israel was, and in reply, say: Behold, we will be yours. God said, Return, you sons, and when you return, I will heal your afflictions, but those from the pagan nations, those who formerly were not yours but belonged to pagan gods, but belonged to opposing powers, said: We will be servants to you. For when the Most High apportioned the nations, we did not arise as your portion nor among the people of Jacob, your allotted heritage; but we became the portions of others. Nevertheless, we, who were then the portions of others when you said to us, Return you sons and when you return, I will heal your afflictions, answer, Behold us. For we were only awaiting one thing: the call. Unlike those who were called and excused themselves, when called, we did not excuse ourselves. For we see in the Gospel parables that, among those who were originally called, one said, “I have married a woman, please excuse me,” and another said, “I have bought five yoke of oxen, I go to examine them, please excuse me.” We from the pagan nations were not called in this manner and did not excuse ourselves. Why? To work what field? Because of what wise woman? But for what other reason are we involved?
(4) God has then said to us: Return you sons, and when you return I will heal your afflictions. And when we see our afflictions and the promise of healing, we answer and say immediately: Behold we will be yours because you are the Lord our God. So when we obey and say, We will be yours, let us remember that we submitted ourselves to God in saying, We will be yours. And by saying, We will be yours, we belong to no other, not to the spirit of anger, nor the spirit of grief, nor the spirit of desire, let us not belong to the Devil nor his angels. But after we were called and said, Behold we will be yours, let us show by works that when we have promised to become his, we have devoted ourselves to none other than him.
(5) And we say: Because you are the Lord our God. For we confess no other god, as the gluttonous do the belly: The belly is god; nor silver as do the lovers of money, nor greed which is idolatry, nor do we make anything else God and divinize it, as the multitude do. For us God is above all, the God above all, through all and in all. And since we attached ourselves with love to God—for love joins us to God—we say: Behold, see us, we will be yours, because you are the Lord our God.
3. Then denouncing our former evils—when we considered these idols mighty and lofty, we worshipped and considered those we were serving as wondrous, but now we realize that all of them were false and actually nothing—we speak as those who return. Truly the hills were directed toward what is false, when we denounce what was previously lofty and what was previously wondrous. And perhaps if we are skillful, we will discover the difference among the pagan nations between the hills and the mountains, which those who said, Behold we will be yours because you are the Lord our God, left behind. They spoke against them both, the hills and the mountains, as false.
(2) So what is the difference among the pagan nations between the mountains and the hills about which, when we realized them, we say: Truly the hills and the power of the mountains were directed toward what is false? We say this when we condemn the former mistakes. Among the pagan nations, some of those things that are worshipped are worshipped as god but others as heroes. They also claim about some of them that they were men at one time and then were deified. They worship Heracles not as one born a god, but as one who was changed from a man into a god. They worship Asclepios as one who has been transformed from a man into a god through virtue. But when they worship the fathers of these heroes, fathers who are called by them gods, they worship not as ones transformed from men to gods, but, as they suppose, those who were gods from the beginning. Thus those who are supposed by the pagan nations to be gods from the beginning are the mountains and the power of the mountains, while those who are supposed among them to be gods now, but were once men, they are the hills.
(3) Thus knowing both kinds of beings which they worship, they say: Truly the hills and the power of the mountains were directed toward what is false. For those who serve these beings do not understand that they are false. So they suppose that these oracles are true oracles and the cures are true cures, not seeing a difference between “every false power, both of signs and of wonders, which occur in every deceit of injustice on those who are lost” and every power of signs and wonders of truth. What Christ Jesus did, these were signs of truth, and before him, what Moses was doing, was a power of truth; but the Egyptians did false signs and wonders, and truly after Jesus what Simon Magus was doing so that the people of Samaria were deceived into supposing he was the “power of God,” these also were false signs and wonders. And so, when we denounce these things we say as those who have denounced: Truly the hills and the power of the mountains were directed toward what is false.
4. Since then we from the pagan nations know that in the stumbling of Israel we have acquired the way of salvation, and they who have been rejected are outside until the full number of us enter, and we know that if the full number of pagan nations enter, every one of Israel will, after this, be saved, we state, first, that truly the hills and the power of the mountains were directed toward what is false, but, second, with respect to the Israel who will be saved after the full number of pagan nations, the salvation of Israel is only through the Lord God. And since we remembered once the statement of the Apostle which says, By their transgression for which Israel has stumbled, salvation has come to the pagan nations, and when the full number of pagan nations has entered, although Israel remains outside, after the full number of pagan nations have entered then all of Israel will be saved, well, let us bring to light the matters referred to in these passages.
(2) There was a certain Israel which was saved. Most of Israel has fallen, but there is a remnant chosen by grace, the remnant concerning which it is said in mystery in Elijah: I have kept for myself ten thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal. And remembering this remnant, the Apostle said, So too at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. So even though a remnant of Israel was saved, Israel was abandoned. Apply also these two categories, if you can, to the pagan nations. For he did not say, “When all the pagan nations are saved, then all of Israel will be saved,” but, When the full number of pagan nations enter, then all of Israel will be saved. For a certain Israel will be saved, not after all of the pagan nations, but after the full number of pagan nations.
(3) If anyone is able, insofar as he has found that Israel is saved after the full number of pagan nations, let him consider, having passed over by reason the remaining period, when it is that all serve God under a single yoke, according to what is said in Zephaniah, And from the ends of Ethiopia they offer sacrifices to him, when, as it is said in the sixty-seventh Psalm, Ethiopia stretches forth her hand to God, and to the kings of the earth the Word commands, saying, Sing to the Lord, raise a psalm to the God of Jacob.
5. Therefore we from the pagan nations, who repent about those false things which we supposed to be true, say this concerning ourselves: Truly the hills and the power of the mountains were directed to what is false, but concerning Israel who will be saved through us, the salvation of the house of Israel is above all through the Lord God. Then, after we confessed concerning the sins in which both our fathers and we shared, when we ourselves were serving idols, we say: But the shame has devoured all of the labors of our fathers by their youth, their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. The shame has devoured the labors of our fathers and the other things which are said. Hence if the laborious labor and the false work of our fathers is to be devoured, shame must arise; for until shame, the labor of our fathers and the other matters which follow are not devoured. For this reason let us note the differences of those who sin. There are even sinners who are neither ashamed nor have any fear, who do not blush for their sins. Of this sort are those without feeling and those who give themselves over to every licentiousness and every uncleanness. For you see how those from the pagan nations in some sense recount as deeds of honor their fornication and adulteries, without being embarassed to admit that they have done such things, and they do not call them sins. Insofar as they have no shame, their labors are not used up, their sins are not used up. The beginning of good is to be ashamed about something one was not ashamed of. Because of this I do not think in those prophecies that a curse is said in the text: All those who hate Zion, may they be put to shame and turned backwards. For it is prayed that those who are unaware of the works of shame come to the awareness that those ashamed can lose the labors of their sins.
6. The movements without reason in the fathers were called sheep and calves. For not everything without reason was praiseworthy, but certain ones without reason are blamed, as are the sheep of the fathers who have sinned, but there are certain praiseworthy sheep without reason, as in, My sheep hear my voice. These are also sheep for which we have a corresponding faculty of reason, since we have the good shepherd in our souls. For when the Savior says, I am the good shepherd, I do not hear this only in a general sense, as all hear it, that he is the shepherd of believers—though this also is both sound and true—but also in my soul I ought to have Christ within me, the good shepherd within me, tending in me the movements without reason, so that no longer do they come by chance to the pasture, but when these which were once alien to him are led by the shepherd, they become his own. Now because of this, if the shepherd is in me, he rules my senses. They are no longer under an alien purpose or under Pharaoh, or under Nebucadnezzar, but under the good shepherd.
7. The shame, then, has devoured the labors of our fathers from their youth, their sheep and their calves. There is something in us to cultivate us, and either it cultivates in an evil way—if one can indeed say that evil corresponds to one who cultivates—or it cultivates in a good way. If then it cultivates in an evil way, the labor of the fathers is devoured by their shame. But if it cultivates in a good way, there is no labor of the fathers. For the labor is by those who are offered as the first-born on the altar of God.
(2) They say their sons and daughters. Of whom is their except of the fathers of the sons and the daughters devoured by their shame? Often we have spoken of the children of the soul, that the thoughts are the sons and the works and deeds are the daughters through the body. Since there are then certain wicked thoughts, like those from the pagan nations have thought, and there are also wicked works, the sons and daughters are devoured by their makers, if shame arises in them for their sins. But let us not make sons and daughters which require the waste of what is from shame.
8. Next those who have confessed say, Let us lie down in our shame, and then they say, and our dishonor has veiled us. We have spoken often about the veil placed over the face of those who do not turn to the Lord. On account of this veil, if Moses is read, the sinner will not understand him. For a veil rests over his heart. On account of the veil, if the Old Testament is read, he who hears will not understand. Also on account of the veil, the Gospel is hidden to those who are lost. Hence we say about the veil that shame is the veil. For insofar as we have the works of shame, it is clear that we possess the veil, according to the forty-third Psalm: And the shame of my face veiled me. I have set forth that he who does not have the works of shame does not have a veil, which was just what Paul says: But we all with an unveiled face behold the glory of the Lord. Thus Paul has an unveiled face. For he does not have the works of shame. He who is not like Paul has a veiled face.
(2) As it is then said there, The shame of my face veiled me, so in the same way it is said here, Our dishonor veiled us. To the degree that we do the works of dishonor, we have a veil resting upon our heart. If we want the veil of dishonor to be lost, let us come to the works of honor and consider that statement of the Savior, that all may honor the Son even as they honor the Father, and the statement made by the Apostle, by breaking the Law, you dishonor God. The righteous man, as he honors the Father honors the Son; the dishonor, when I dishonor the Son (the dishonor itself through which I dishonor the Father or the Son) becomes a covering over my appearance and I say: And dishonor concealed us.
(3) Hence when we have considered the veil which hangs over from the works of shame and by the deeds of dishonor, let us remove the veil. It is in our power to remove the veil; it is for no one else. When Moses turned to the Lord, he removed the veil. Do you see then how Moses is also received before the people? Whenever he did not turn toward the Lord—as a symbol of those people who did not turn to the Lord—he placed over his face a veil. But when he turned to the Lord—as a symbol of those turning to the Lord—then he removed the veil. And as God did not order him, “Put on the veil”—for the Lord did not say to Moses, “Put on the veil”—but Moses, knowing that the people could not see his glory, then rested the veil over his face. And he did not wait for God to say, “Remove the veil,” whenever he might “turn to the Lord.”
9. So this has been written so that you also, who have placed upon your face the veil due to the works of dishonor and shame, might yourselves work to take away the veil and will say no longer, Our dishonor veiled us. If you turn toward the Lord, then you remove the veil, and you no longer say, Our dishonor veiled us. When anger against someone hangs over our soul it hangs as a veil over our face. So, if we wish to say when we pray, The light of your face has been manifested upon us, Lord, let us remove the veil and fulfill that apostolic exhortation: I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling. If we remove the anger, we remove the veil, if all passions. Insofar as these things are in our mind, in our understanding, the veil and the dishonor are hanging over the inner face, over our heart, we do not see the shining glory of God. It is not God who hides his glory from us, but it is we who put the veil over our heart from evil.
10. Therefore, we and our fathers sinned against God. Oh, let us also say as those in the dramatization of the Prophet, We sinned. We sinned is not the same as: “We are sinning.” For the one who is still in sin does not say, We sinned, but he who was in sin but has really repented says, We sinned, just as the confession is also written in Daniel of those who no longer sin, who say: We have sinned, we have transgressed the Law, and in the Psalms the Prophet said, Do not remember our ancient iniquities. So let us also confess sins; oh not just yesterday or the day before yesterday, but when we confess let us confess about sins fifteen years ago so that we have no sin after those for fifteen years. But if we sinned yesterday, we are by no means trustworthy when we confess our sins, nor is it possible that these sins of ours are erased.
(2) Therefore we and our fathers sinned from our youth until this day. That other phrase is stated for a teaching on the best way of confession, but this is a denouncement of prolonged sinning. From youth, he says, until this day, and we did not listen to the voice of the Lord our God. We sinned and we did not listen until now; then when they turn and begin conversion, they say, “We were sinning and we did not listen.” For it does not happen that to want to listen means we simultaneously do immediately listen. For just as time is still required with a cure for wounds, so is it also with turning maturely98 and purely to God for conversion.
11. Next God says concerning Israel: “If Israel returns to me,” the Lord says, “then he will also return,” that is, if he turns maturely, he also will be turned to a conversion, as if he has only begun to turn. Then he says: And if he removes his abominations from his mouth, and he is awed by my presence, and he will swear: “May the Lord live in truth and in judgment and righteousness,” and the nations shall bless in him. If they do these things, the nations bless in him. What things do they do so that the nations bless in him? If he removes his abominations from his mouth. But how to remove the abominations from his mouth? Whatever we say in an evil way, they are abominations in our mouth. So let us remove the abominations from our mouth by getting rid of the slanders, the profane words, idle words which are destined to accuse us on the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned. Thus if we wish to arrive for ourselves where the nations bless in him, and in him they praise God in Jerusalem, let us do the things stated at the beginning. But what do we do first? We remove the abominations from our mouth.
(2) Next there is the passage: He is awed by my presence. Let us do this second thing not simply that we may be awed. For perhaps it is awe which appears, but not by the presence of God. Indeed they who are awed without knowledge but by intending to be awed are not awed by the presence of God. But when they are awed with knowledge by always seeing and recognizing for themselves the presence of the God who appears to those who do evil in order to cut off their memory from the earth, these are those who are awed by the presence of God.
12. If he removes his abominations from his mouth, and he is awed by my presence, and he swears, “May the Lord live in truth and in judgment and in righteousness.” Let us, those who swear, see for ourselves in what way we do not swear in judgment but without judgment, so that our oaths arise by habit more than by judgment. In fact we are carried away and when he reproves this the Word says: And if he swears: “May the Lord live in truth and in judgment and in righteousness.” We know what is said to the disciples in the Gospel by the Lord: But I say to you: do not swear at all, but let us also consider that word, and if God will permit, both views will be examined. For perhaps first it is necessary to swear in truth and in judgment and in righteousness so that after this, after having progressed, a worthy person may come not to swear at all, but to have a yes which needs no witnesses to be this, to have a “no” which needs no witnesses for it to be truly no.
(2) And he swears, then, “May the Lord live in truth.” First, in the swearing, let not the false but the true live, so he may swear with truth—for we wretches also give false oaths. But suppose it is with truth, the oath is still not proper, but in judgment. For it may happen that I swear from habit, I do not swear in judgment. If one would need to take for some oath the witness of the God of the universe and his Christ with respect to some matter, how great must be the matter to get down on one’s knees and swear? To cure the unbelief which arises in some concerning my discourse I might at some point do this, but if it is a risk if I swear thus, I would sin.
(3) If, then, he swears, “May the Lord live with truth and in judgment,” not without judgment, and in righteousness, not with unrighteousness, and the nations will bless in him. He unified diverse peoples, those from the pagan nations and Israel; he spoke concerning the pagan nations and he spoke also concerning Israel.
13. He adds: And the nations will bless in him, and in him they will praise God in Jerusalem. For this is what the Lord says to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. He has spoken to those from the pagan nations, he has spoken also to those from Israel, he speaks to those from Judah. I recall the allegories said recently concerning Judah and the inhabitants in Jerusalem. For we live, God willing, in Jerusalem. Since, where the treasure is, there also is the heart, if we have our treasure in heaven, also we have the heart in Jerusalem above, concerning which the Apostle said, The Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother, for it is written, and so forth.
(2) This then is what the Lord says to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem: “Break up fallow ground and sow not among thorns.” This word is especially directed to those who teach, lest they entrust what is said to the pupils too soon before they have prepared the fallow ground in their souls. For whenever they put the hand to the plow, they make the ground fallow in their souls, according to the beautiful and the good earth of those who hear. Then when they sow, the sowers do not sow among thorns. But if prior to the plow and prior to the making of fallow ground in the heart of those who hear, someone takes the holy seeds, the word concerning the Father, concerning the Son and Holy Spirit, the word concerning the Resurrection, the word concerning the punishment, the word concerning the final rest, concerning the Law, the Prophets and in general each of the Scriptures, and sows them, he disobeys the first commandment which states first: Break up their fallow ground; second: and do not sow among thorns.
(3) But someone among the hearers will say: “I do not teach, I am not covered under this commandment.” And you, be a farmer of yourself, and do not sow among thorns, but make for yourself the field as fallow ground, which the God of the universe has trusted with you. Consider the field, behold where there are thorns, where there are cares of life and guile of riches and love of pleasure. And after considering the thorns in your soul, seek out the spiritual plow, concerning which Jesus said, No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is worthy of the kingdom of God. After having sought and found it, gather from the Scriptures the bulls, the pure workers; plow and break up the earth. And in order that it may no longer be old, make it new by putting off the old man with his practices and putting on the new man which is renewed for knowledge. Make for yourself fallow ground, and if you make the fallow ground, take the seeds from those who teach, take seeds from the Law, take from the Prophets, from the Gospel writings, from the words of the Apostles, and when you have taken these seeds, sow the soul through memory and exercise. It may appear that these seeds sprout on their own, and it is not true that they sprout after the memory of them, but God will cause them to grow. I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused them to grow. And if one has been able to comprehend Scripture, he has made fallow ground, and after making fallow ground, he did not sow among thorns. These seeds are not built up by God to become plants suddenly, but, as in the Gospel according to Mark, first the blade then the ear, then it is ready for harvest. When it is ready for harvest, those sent out for harvest will come. When it is ready for harvest, they will come to those to whom the Word said: Raise up your eyes and see the fields, that they are already white for harvest. Thus he says to us, Make of yourselves fallow ground and do not sow among thorns, but if before you purge your soul, still having thorns, you go to one who is able or claims or professes to teach and ask for lessons and spiritual seeds, you transgress the commandment which said, Do not sow among thorns.
14. And next after this it is said: Circumcise yourselves for your God and circumcise the foreskin of your heart. Circumcise yourself for your God. Circumcise yourselves. For your God is necessarily added, and you will understand it from the example of the corporeal. They are circumcised, I say, according to the corporeal, not only those with a circumcision according to the Law of Moses, but also many others. The priests of the Egyptians are circumcised for idols, but that circumcision is a circumcision for idols, not a circumcision done for God. And perhaps the circumcision of the Jews is done for God; it was at that time anyway. If then the Word says, Circumcise yourselves for your God, having understood the literal meaning, pass over now to the allegorical, so that you can discover how, among those circumcised allegorically—so that some of them may perhaps say, We are the circumcised—there are those circumcised for God, but also those circumcised yet not for God. There are also other words outside the word of truth, outside the word of the Church. Those who practice philosophy circumcise their habits and the heart so that they have, you could say, self-control. Those from the heresies have self control and there is a circumcision for them, but it is a circumcision not for God. For circumcision happens among them for a false reason. And whenever you share in communion in accord with the rule of the Church, in accord with the purpose of sound teaching, it is not only to circumcise, but to circumcise for God.
(2) Circumcise yourselves then for your God and circumcise the foreskin of your heart. Who does not pass over these words as clear? There is then a foreskin of the heart, and it is necessary to circumcise it. If he seeks for such things in the text, he who understands thoroughly the meaning will discover: The foreskin is inborn, the circumcision comes later, and whatever has appeared from birth, the circumcision strips this away. So if the Word exhorts to strip away the foreskin of the heart, there ought to be something inborn in the heart, which he calls the foreskin which is necessary to strip away so that one may circumcise the foreskin of the heart. If one will consider that we were children of wrath by nature, like the rest of mankind, if one will consider the body of humility in which we were born, if one will consider that nothing clean is from dirt, even if his life is only one day; yet his months are numerous, he will see in some sense that we have been born with uncleanness and a foreskin over our heart.
15. But in order to speak with a simpler example so that you all can be brought to see the foreskin of the heart, I will state that in the first stage of growth false teachings certainly arise in the soul, for it is impossible from the beginning that man receive pure and true doctrines. But the divine Word has provided history and Scripture with what is according to letter in order that he could nourish first the one born to Abraham according to the flesh on those doctrines according to the flesh. And the one from the slave would arise first, so that the one of the free woman and the one through the promise could be born after him. If one has considered this in light of what has been heard, the foreskin of the heart coming before the circumcision can be understood.
(2) Hence there is need for us to receive the Word who purifies doctrines and who strips away all those things arising in us in accord with false opinion. This means then to put away the foreskin of our heart. For if it is our heart which contains the governing power, wherever there are thoughts, there wicked reasonings come forth. He who strips away the wicked reasonings strips away the foreskin of the heart, he who takes away false opinion circumcises the foreskin of his heart, and by circumcising purely becomes a man of Judah and an inhabitant of Jerusalem. But if someone does not put away the foreskin of his heart, let us see how the Word threatens him: lest my wrath go forth like fire, he says, and burn with no one to quench it. Like fire the wrath of the Lord goes forth upon those who were not circumcised for God, on those who have not removed the foreskin of their heart, and there is no one to quench it in the face of the wickedness of their habits. That fire has as fuel the wickedness of your habits. Where there is no wickedness of habits, the fire has no place to dwell. But because the fuel of that fire is the wickedness of your habits, hear the Prophet when he says: And there will be no one to quench it in the face of the wickedness of your habits.
(3) Proclaim in Judah, and let it be heard in Jerusalem. Speak, proclaim, signify it with the trumpet through the land, and cry out loud. Speak these proclamations, he says, in Judah, to those from the tribe of Judah, of Christ, for it is evident that our Savior was descended from Judah.
16. Signify it with the trumpet over the land. The exalted Word, he who arouses the hearer, he who prepares him for the war against the passions, for the war against the opposing forces, he who makes him ready for the heavenly feasts—for to both conditions these things are said—is understood as a trumpet. In the book of Numbers there is such a Word, a trumpet. When the Word commands me and some others—for he has given it to him who wishes for and seeks the sense of Scripture—he commands to make beaten silver trumpets. So also the Word says, Signify it with the trumpet over the land, and cry out loud. Say: “Assemble and let us go into the fortified cities.” The Word of God does not wish us to enter into an unfortified city, but into one fortified. The Church of the living God is fortified by the truth of the Word. For he is the wall, as it is said in the seventeeth Psalm that God also is a wall.
(2) Get up, flee to Zion. Whoever of you are outside Zion, get up, flee to Zion. You who are in progress, press on and do not remain. Hasten to the watchtower, because I bring evil from Borra and great destruction. While he brings evil from Borra—Borra being, as it is often said, the adversary—if he who has neither hastened nor come into the fortified cities should be found, not being in the churches of God but standing outside, once caught by the enemies he will be destroyed. But who is the enemy? Let us see from the next words how it is said: A lion went up from his thicket; he who destroys nations has set out. He is the enemy whom we need to flee. A lion pursues us. Who is this? Peter teaches us by saying, Your adversary the Devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Resist him, be firm in the Faith. And according to the ninth Psalm, he lurks in secret, he lurks like a lion in his covert, and he the lion does not lurk during the day, but he even arises at night. For according to the hundred and third Psalm, You make darkness and it becomes night; in it all the beasts of the forest creep forth, lions roar for prey and seek food for themselves from God.
17. Thus, the lion went up from his thicket. Where? When? After falling down, he has gone down into the depths of the earth. The lion went up from his thicket. You are a man, you are higher than the Devil. For you are greater than he, whatever you may be. That one is lower due to evil.
(2) The lion, then, went up from his thicket; he who destroys nations has set out. After he has gone up from his thicket, from his own place, for his punishment, he who destroys nations has set out. He has set out from his place to reduce your land to a desert. He wants to enter into the land of you, about which we were speaking briefly before. Each of us he wants to dwell in. Thus he comes to reduce your land to a desert, so that he may trample on the seeds, so that he may make a desert land of you. And your cities will be ruined without any inhabitants. For this gird yourself with sackcloth. Since then the lion has come up and the lion threatens you and wants to obliterate your land, gird yourself with sackcloth, cry out and mourn, implore God through prayers to remove this lion from you, and you may not fall in with him into the pit. In the way the shepherd reserves from the mouth of the lion two legs or a piece of an ear, this lion seeks to take your ears in order that through your gluttony, when he deceives you with false words, he may pluck you out from the truth. He wants you away from the truth to seize the feet and eat you up. But gird yourself with sackcloth and beat your chests and cry out and shout when you see the opposing enemy, so that the wrath of anger of the Lord may turn away from you, and after having turned aside the wrath, you can be without anxiety, for no longer does the lion attack you unawares; you have entered into the fortified city and glorify the God who rescues you in Christ Jesus, to whom is the glory and the power for the ages of ages. Amen.