Deuteronomy 32:20
And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.
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(20) A very froward generation.—Literally, a generation of perversities.

Children in whom is no faith.—Literally, children !there is no relying on them. (Comp. Deuteronomy 5:5.) Faith is not used in the sense of “belief” or “confidence,” but as in the expression to “keep faith,” or to “break faith,” children who will keep no faith with one.

Deuteronomy 32:20. I will see what their end will be — I will make them and others see what the fruit of such actions shall be. No faith — No fidelity. They were notoriously perfidious, and had so often broke their covenant with God, that they were not to be trusted when they made profession of repentance. To the truth of this their whole history bears witness. But besides this, in another sense they were destitute of faith. They did not truly believe the words God had spoken to them; they had not faith either in his promises or threatenings. And they put no trust or confidence in his glorious perfections, in his power, love, or faithfulness. Alas! how justly may God make the same complaint concerning many professors of Christianity! They are children in whom is no faith. They have not a firm reliance on the truth and importance of what God has spoken, and on the divine attributes engaged to make it good. Whatever is not the object of their senses, they either believe but faintly, or not at all. Here is the great failing of most professors of the true religion, the grand source of their sins and miseries. For it is faith only that can unite man to God, and produce love and obedience: it is this only that can raise him from earth to heaven! Reader, hast thou faith? Remember, without faith it is impossible to please God. From this verse to the 29th, Moses personates God speaking.

32:19-25 The revolt of Israel was described in the foregoing verses, and here follow the resolves of Divine justice as to them. We deceive ourselves, if we think that God will be mocked by a faithless people. Sin makes us hateful in the sight of the holy God. See what mischief sin does, and reckon those to be fools that mock at it.I will see what their end shall be - Compare the similar expression in Genesis 37:20.17. They sacrificed unto devils—(See on [168]Le 17:7). I will see what their end shall be; I will see and observe what will be the issue of all this, what will become of them at last; but this God doth not see only by way of speculation, but practically, i.e. considers with himself what he shall do with them, and how he shall punish them, and sees what he wills or purposes to do. A speech after the manner of men. Or

I will see is put for I will make them and others to see, what the fruit of such actions shall be. Hebrew verbs in cal do ofttimes take the signification of hiphil. In whom there is no faith; perfidious, that have broken their covenant so solemnly made with me.

And he said, I will hide my face from them,.... Now the Lord proceeds to pass sentence on the Jews for their ill treatment of his Son, and of his followers; which respects judgments that should come upon them, both spiritual and temporal, or corporeal; the former lies in Deuteronomy 32:20, and the latter in Deuteronomy 32:22; and this the Lord said in his own heart and mind, decreed and determined it within himself, and declared it in his word by his prophets, as here and in other places: and this first part of the sentence denotes the withdrawing of the gracious presence of God, and the manifestation of his favour, from the people of the Jews, his dislike and contempt of them, having taken out from among them the remnant according to the election of grace, the disciples and followers of Christ; and the removal of the Gospel, and the ordinances of it, from them, the means of light and knowledge, joy and comfort, and the giving of them up to blindness and hardness of heart, which continues to this day; they have a vail of darkness and ignorance upon their hearts while reading the books of the Old Testament, which will be done away when they turn to the Lord, and not before; likewise this was fulfilled when all the symbols of the divine Presence were removed, when the temple was destroyed, and all things in it, or carried away; and this house, which was formerly the house of God, and where he dwelt, was left desolate by him; and it is remarkable, that a little before the destruction of Jerusalem, a voice was heard in the temple, "let us go hence", as Josephus relates (z):

I will see what their end shall be: their destruction, called in the New Testament "the end of the world"; the end of the Jewish church state and commonwealth: this the Lord said, not as ignorant what it should be, or when it would be; but the sense is, either that he would cause them and others to see it, when he should bring wrath upon them to the uttermost; or that he would look upon it with pleasure and delight, which would be an aggravation of their punishment, Proverbs 1:26,

for they are a very froward generation; men of perverse spirits, of a contrary and contradictory temper and disposition, who pleased not God, and were contrary to all men; as well as contradicted and blasphemed the Gospel of Christ, were men of distorted principles in religion, implicated and inconsistent, they wresting the Scriptures to their own destruction; and were obstinate, stubborn, and inflexible in their notions and practices, and that to the last, which was their ruin:

children in whom is no faith; for though they had faith in one God, in the Scriptures of the Old Testament as the word of God, in the law of Moses, and in a future state, the resurrection of the dead, and judgment to come; especially the Pharisees, the greater part of the Jews; yet though they were the children of Abraham, and would be thought to be the children of God, they had no faith in Jesus, the true Messiah; him they disbelieved and rejected; and as their fathers could not enter into the land of Canaan, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness, because of unbelief; so these were cast out of the land, and from the Lord, because of their unbelief in the rejection of the Messiah. Aben Ezra observes, that it may be interpreted there is no men of faithfulness, or no faithful men among them, as in Psalm 12:1; they were a faithless generation, covenant breakers, broke their covenant with God, and therefore he rejected them.

(z) De Bello Jud. l. 6. c. 5. sect. 3.

And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.
20. And he said] A gloss, it overloads the rhythm.

Let me hide, etc.] Deuteronomy 31:17 f.

their end] Lit. their afterwards, see on Deuteronomy 4:30.

a very froward, etc.] Heb. is stronger, a generation of upturnings or overthrows (only here and in Prov.); not perverse but subversive; and so children in whom is no faithfulness, reliableness, or ‘staith.’

Verse 20. - God himself comes forth to announce his resolution to withdraw his favor from them, and to inflict chastisement upon them; he would withdraw his protecting care of them, and see how they would fare without that; and he would also send on them the tokens of his displeasure. A very froward generation, etc.; literally, a generation of perversities, an utterly perverse and faithless race. Deuteronomy 32:20"And He said, I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end will be: for they are a generation full of perversities, children in whom is no faithfulness. They excited My jealousy by a no-god, provoked Me by their vanities: and I also will excite their jealousy by a no-people, provoke them by a foolish nation. For a fire blazes up in My nose, and burns to the lowest hell, and consumes the earth with its increase, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains." The divine purpose contains two things: - first of all (Deuteronomy 32:20) the negative side, to hide the face, i.e., to withdraw His favour and see what their end would be, i.e., that their apostasy would bring nothing but evil and destruction; for they were "a nation of perversities" (taphuchoth is moral perversity, Proverbs 2:14; Proverbs 6:14), i.e., "a thoroughly perverse and faithless generation" (Knobel); - and then, secondly (Deuteronomy 32:21), the positive side, viz., chastisement according to the right of complete retaliation. The Israelites had excited the jealousy and vexation of God by a no-god and vanities; therefore God would excite their jealousy and vexation by a no-people and a foolish nation. How this retaliation would manifest itself is not fully defined however here, but is to be gathered from the conduct of Israel towards the Lord. Israel had excited the jealousy of God by preferring a no-god, or הבלים, nothingnesses, i.e., gods that were vanities or nothings (Elilim, Leviticus 19:4), to the true and living God, its Father and Creator. God would therefore excite them to jealousy and ill-will by a no-people, a foolish nation, i.e., by preferring a no-people to the Israelites, transferring His favour to them, and giving the blessing which Israel had despised to a foolish nation. It is only with this explanation of the words that full justice is done to the idea of retribution; and it was in this sense that Paul understood this passage as referring to the adoption of the Gentiles as the people of God (Romans 10:19), and that not merely by adaptation, or by connecting another meaning with the words, as Umbreit supposes, but by interpreting it in exact accordance with the true sense of the words.

(Note: But when Kamphausen, on the other hand, maintains that this thought, which the apostle finds in the passage before us, would be "quite erroneous if taken as an exposition of the words," the assertion is supported by utterly worthless arguments: for example, (1) that throughout this song the exalted heathen are never spoken of as the bride of God, but simply as a rod of discipline used against Israel; (2) that this verse refers to the whole nation of Israel, and there is no trace of any distinction between the righteous and the wicked; and (3) that the idea that God would choose another people as the covenant nation would have been the very opposite of that Messianic hope with which the author of this song was inspired. To begin with the last, the Messianic hope of the song consisted unquestionably in the thought that the Lord would do justice to His people, His servants, and would avenge their blood, even when the strength of the nation should have disappeared (Deuteronomy 32:36 and Deuteronomy 32:43). But this thought, that the Lord would have compassion upon Israel at last, by no means excludes the reception of the heathen into the kingdom of God, as is sufficiently apparent from Romans 9-11. The assertion that this verse refers to the whole nation is quite incorrect. The plural suffixes used throughout in Deuteronomy 32:20 and Deuteronomy 32:21 show clearly that both verses simply refer to those who had fallen away from the Lord; and nowhere throughout the whole song is it assumed, that the whole nation would fall away to the very last man, so that there would be no further remnant of faithful servants of the Lord, to whom the Lord would manifest His favour again. And lastly, it is nowhere affirmed that God would simply use the heathen as a rod against Israel. The reference is solely to enemies and oppressors of Israel; and the chastisement of Israel by foes holds the second, and therefore a subordinate, place among the evils with which God would punish the rebellious. It is true that the heathen are not described as the bride of God in this song, but that is for no other reason than because the idea of moving them to jealousy with a not-people is not more fully expanded.)

The adoption of the Gentile world into covenant with the Lord involved the rejection of the disobedient Israel; and this rejection would be consummated in severe judgments, in which the ungodly would perish. In this way the retribution inflicted by the Lord upon the faithless and perverse generation of His sons and daughters becomes a judgment upon the whole world. The jealousy of the Lord blazes up into a fire of wrath, which burns down to sheol. This aspect of the divine retribution comes into the foreground in what follows, from Deuteronomy 32:23 onwards; whilst the adoption of the Gentile world, which the Apostle Paul singles out as the leading thought of this verse, in accordance with the special purpose of the song, falls back behind the thought, that the Lord would not utterly destroy Israel, but when all its strength had disappeared would have compassion upon His servants, and avenge their blood upon His foes. The idea of a no-people is to be gathered from the antithesis no-god. As Schultz justly observes, "the expression no-people can no more denote a people of monsters, than the no-god was a monster, by which Israel had excited the Lord to jealousy." This remark is quite sufficient to show that the opinion of Ewald and others is untenable and false, namely, that "the expression no-people signifies a truly inhuman people, terrible and repulsive." No-god is a god to whom the predicate of godhead cannot properly be applied; and so also no-people is a people that does not deserve the name of a people or nation at all. The further definition of no-god is to be found in the word "vanities" No-god are the idols, who are called vanities or nothingnesses, because they deceive the confidence of men in their divinity; because, as Jeremiah says (Jeremiah 14:22), they can give no showers of rain or drops of water from heaven. No-people is explained by a "foolish nation." A "foolish nation" is the opposite of a wise and understanding people, as Israel is called in Deuteronomy 4:6, because it possessed righteous statutes and rights in the law of the Lord. The foolish nation therefore is not "an ungodly nation, which despises all laws both human and divine" (Ros., Maur.), but a people whose laws and rights are not founded upon divine revelation. Consequently the no-people is not "a barbarous and inhuman people" (Ros.), or "a horde of men that does not deserve to be called a people" (Maurer), but a people to which the name of a people or nation is to be refused, because its political and judicial constitution is the work of man, and because it has not the true God for its head and king; or, as Vitringa explains, "a people not chosen by the true God, passed by when a people was chosen, shut out from the fellowship and grace of God, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and a stranger from the covenant of promise (Ephesians 2:12)." In this respect every heathen nation was a "no-people," even though it might not be behind the Israelites so far as its outward organization was concerned. This explanation cannot be set aside, either by the objection that at that time Israel had brought itself down to the level of the heathen, by its apostasy from the Eternal, - for the notion of people and no-people is not taken from the outward appearance of Israel at any particular time, but is derived from its divine idea and calling, - or by an appeal to the singular, "a foolish nation," whereas we should expect "foolish nations" to correspond to the "vanities," if we were to understand by the no-people not one particular heathen nation, but the heathen nations generally. The singular, "a foolish nation," was required by the antithesis, upon which it is founded, the "wise nation," from which the expression no-people first receives its precise definition, which would be altogether obliterated by the plural. Moreover, Moses did not intend to give expression to the thought that God would excite Israel to jealousy by either few, or many, or all the Gentile nations.

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