Evidences of God's Unchanging Mercy.

THE PROOF OF JEHOVAH’S LOVE. — V. 1. When Israel was a child, at the time of the youth of the nation, then I loved him and called My son out of Egypt, in choosing the nation for His own peculiar people. The inspired writer of the first gospel applies this statement to the return of the Christ-child from Egypt after the abrupt flight of His parents from Bethlehem. Matt. 2, 15. V. 2. As they, the prophets, called them, with the Lord's tender invitation to follow the way of salvation, so they, the children of Israel, went from them, turning away from the path of deliverance which was offered them; they sacrificed unto Baalim, the idols of the Canaanites, and burned incense to graven images, in the open practice of idolatry which the Lord had ever so severely censured. V. 3. I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms, that is, the Lord Himself took His people in His arms to lead them safely through the dangers of the desert, Deut. 1, 31; but they knew not that I healed them. Cp. Ex. 15, 26. V. 4. I drew them with cords of a man, as with bands which support the first weak steps of a child, with bands of love, not with chains to hold them captive against their will; and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, as when a man slips back the yoke on the neck of a draft animal in order to give it the liberty to eat freely, and I laid meat unto them, gently offering them food for their souls. The entire passage refers to the many evidences of love which the Lord showed His people on the way through the wilderness and in the Promised Land. V. 5. He shall not return into the land of Egypt, Egypt here being used in its literal sense, but the Assyrian shall be his king, Assyria being the new land of bondage, because they refused to return, because they rejected the Lord's offers of love. V. 6. And the sword shall abide on his cities, making the rounds in a campaign of destruction, and shall consume his branches, destroying their bars or defenses, and devour them because of their own counsels, because they were determined to leave the Lord and His ways. V. 7. And My people are bent to backsliding from Me, they were ever inclined to fall away and to reject the Lord; though they, the prophets, called them to the Most High, pointing them upwards to the one Rock of their Salvation, none at all would exalt Him, rather, "all together they refuse to arise." If men are lost, it is not due to a lack of love on the part of the Lord, but altogether to their own stubbornness in refusing His invitation.

ASSURANCES OF GOD’S MERCY. — V. 8. How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? What would be the proper measure of punishment to mete out to such a stubborn people? How shall I deliver thee, Israel? namely, to a proper measure of chastisement. How shall I make thee as Admah? How shall I set thee as Zeboim? the two cities of the vale of Siddim which were destroyed together with Sodom and Gomorrah, cp. Deut. 29, 22. Mine heart is turned within Me, namely, with a feeling of mercy in spite of Israel's transgressions; My repentings are kindled together, being most violently stirred at the contemplation of Israel's condition. God is ever more ready to show mercy than to let His stern justice punish men. V. 9. I will not execute the fierceness of Mine anger, although He had every reason to be deeply incensed over the behavior of Ephraim; I will not return to destroy Ephraim, He still holds out a hope of deliverance to a repentant people; for I am God and not man, not filled With the vindictiveness which men might exhibit upon similar occasions, the Holy One in the midst of thee, the pure and perfect God, whose counsel is ever unchanged; and I will not enter into the city. V. 10. They, the people of the Lord, shall walk after the Lord, turning back to Him with a converted heart. He shall roar like a lion, by His judgments upon His foes; when He shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the West, literally, "from the sea," along the shores of the Mediterranean, that is, throughout the Western world. V. 11. They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt, from the lands of the South, and as a dove out of the land of Assyria, from the mighty country on the East, so that all the quarters of the earth would be affected by His call, and I will place them in their houses, saith the Lord, so that they would enjoy His inheritance. The reference is clearly to the blessings of the Messianic period.