17. My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations.
17. Abjiciet eos meus Deus, quia non audierunt eum (vel, non obedierunt ei, ut sit clarius,) et erunt vagi inter gentes.
The Prophet, as I have lately hinted, assigns a reason why God had resolved to deal so severely with this people, namely because he saw their unnameable perverseness. For the Prophets always defend the justice of God against the impious complaints of those men who murmur whenever God severely punishes them, and cry out that he is cruel, and exceeds moderation. The Prophets do therefore shut up the mouth of the ungodly, that they may not vomit out their blasphemies against God; and the Prophet is now on this subject. Hence he says, that destruction was nigh the Israelites, because God had rejected them; for the verb oam, mas, means to reject, to cast away, to despise. As long then as the Lord vouchsafed to care for this people, they possessed at least some eminence; but the Prophet says that now they were wholly cast away. What then remained for them but entire ruin?
And he says, My God will cast them away. By this expression he claims authority to himself, and thunders against the whole people; for though the whole worship of God was shamefully corrupted in the kingdom of Israel, they yet boasted that they were the holy seed at Abraham, and the name of God was as yet ready in every mouth, as we know that the ungodly take to themselves the liberty of profaning the name of God without any hesitation or shame. Since then this false glorying prevailed as yet among the Israelites, the Prophet says, "He is no more your God, mine he is." Thus he placed himself on one side, and set himself alone in opposition to the whole people. But at the same time he proves that he has more authority than they all; for he brings forward God as the supporter and defender of his doctrine. 'My God,' he says, 'will cast them away.' So also Isaiah says, when reproving Ahab,
'Is it not enough that ye be troublesome to men, except ye be also troublesome to my God?' (Isaiah 7:13.)
And yet Isaiah was not the only one who worshipped God purely. This is true; but he had respect to the king and his company; and therefore he connected himself with God, and separated them all from himself, inasmuch as they had already by their perfidy separated themselves from him.
Then he says, 'My God will cast them away.' So at this day we may safely take the name of God in opposition to the Papists; for they have nothing in common with the true God, since they have polluted themselves with so many abominations: and though they may be proud against us, trusting in their vast multitude, and because we are few; yet we may boldly oppose them, since God, we know, can never be separated nor drawn away from his word, and his word, we know, stands on our side. We may then lawfully reprove the Papists, and say that God is opposed to them, for we fight under his banner.
Because, he says, they have not obeyed me. We see that the cause of extreme vengeance is perverseness; that is, when men designedly harden their hearts against God. The Gentiles also perish, indeed, without any instruction; but vengeance is doubled, when the Lord extends his hand to the erring, and seeks to recall them to the way of salvation, and when they obstinately refuse to obey; yea, when they show their heart to be perverse in their wickedness. When, then, such perverseness is added to errors and vicious affections, God must necessarily come forth with his extreme vengeance, as he threatens here by his Prophet.
As, then, they obeyed not, the Lord will cast them away, and they shall be fugitives among the nations. This seems to be a lighter punishment than what he had previously stated respecting their seed being destroyed. But we must remember the contrast between the rest given them by God, and this vagrant wandering, of which the Prophet now speaks. The land of Canaan was to them a quiet habitation, where they rested as though God cherished them under his wings; and hence it is even called the rest of God in Psalm 95. But now, when the Israelites wandered as fugitives, and sought rest here and there, and could not find it, it was more evidently a rejection of them; for the Lord proved, every day and every moment, that they were repudiated by him, inasmuch as they were deprived of that rest which he had promised them. Let us proceed --