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Chapters 4 and 5
Chapters 6 and 7
Chapters 9 to 11
Necessary, inevitable judgment: God's own thoughts of grace
Chapter 13 is the perpetual conflict of the affections and the judgment of God. The thought of their sin calls forth the announcement of the necessary and inevitable judgment. As soon as the judgment is pronounced, the heart of God returns to His own thoughts of grace (see v. 1-4, 7, 9, 12, 14, and the last two of the chapter). Nothing can be finer than this intermingling of the moral necessity for judgment, the just indignation of God at such sin, pleading to induce Israel to forsake their evil ways and seek Jehovah, who would assuredly have compassion; then God's recurrence to the eternal counsels of His own grace, to secure unto the people whom He loved that of which their iniquity deprived them; and, at the same time, the touching remembrance of former relationship with His beloved people. What condescension, and what grace, on the part of their God! Well had Israel deserved the sentence, "I will no more have mercy," painful and terrible as it was, in exact proportion to all that God had shewn Himself to be for Israel. Well can the Lord Jesus say, "How often would I have gathered thy children, as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldest not."
The manner also in which God deduces the history of Israel's iniquity, ever since they came into the wilderness, and presents the means they had enjoyed for returning to Him; the way in which He sets forth His dealings when He had to resist the unfaithful Jacob, yet had blessed him when he wrestled in faith -- He who never changes, and who was still the same for Israel; the whole behaviour of Israel being marked by God, borne in mind, and brought forward for the instruction of the people, if by any means it might be possible to spare them: -- the whole of this picture, in a word, drawn by God Himself, ministers profound instruction to us, teaching us to cleave closely to Him who, however great His patience may be, takes knowledge of all our ways, and has ordained that we should reap that which we have sown.
The patience of God's love; His counsels
Nothing also exhibits more fully the prolonged and marvellous patience of the love of God. It is the special object of this prophecy to set forth the moral condition of the people which led to the sentence of Lo-ruhamah, and then to that of Lo-ammi, unfolded in the summary of God's ways with the people given in chapters 1 to 3 -- the relationship that exists between the moral dealings of God and His unchangeable counsels -- the connection between these counsels and the affections according to which God accomplishes them -- the ingratitude of man in his behaviour with respect to these affections -- the longsuffering which the love of God causes Him to exercise towards His ungrateful people -- at last, that withdrawal on God's part which left His people a prey to their own corruption, and to the snares of the enemy. The result is, that the condition of His people obliges God to bring the Judgment upon them which their sin called for, when all the warnings of God by His messengers had been unavailing. But this gives place to the accomplishment of the counsels of God, who brings His people to repentance, after having long given them up to the fruits of their own doings, and thus enables them to enjoy the effects of His counsels.
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