Isaiah 54:7
For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.
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(7) For a small moment.—Historically the words point to the seventy years of exile, as being but a transient interruption of the manifestation of the everlasting mercies. Spiritually they have wider and manifold fulfilments in the history of individuals, of the Church, of mankind.

54:6-10 As God is slow to anger, so he is swift to show mercy. And how sweet the returns of mercy would be, when God should come and comfort them! He will have mercy on them. God's gathering his people takes rise from his mercy, not any merit of theirs; and it is with great mercies, with everlasting kindness. The wrath is little, the mercies great; the wrath for a moment, the kindness everlasting. We are neither to despond under afflictions, nor to despair of relief. Mountains have been shaken and removed, but the promises of God never were broken by any event. Mountains and hills also signify great men. Creature-confidences shall fail; but when our friends fail us, our God does not. All this is alike applicable to the church at large, and to each believer. God will rebuke and correct his people for sins; but he will not cast them off. Let this encourage us to give the more diligence to make our calling and election sure.For a small moment - The Chaldee and Syriac render this, 'In a little anger.' Lowth has adopted this, but without sufficient authority. The Hebrew means, 'For a little moment;' a very short time. The reference here is probably to the captivity at Babylon, when they were apparently forsaken by Yahweh. Though to them this appeared long, yet compared with their subsequent prosperity, it was but an instant of time. Though this had probably a primary reference to the captivity then, yet there can be no impropriety in applying it to other similar cases. It contains an important principle; that is, that though God appears to forsake his people, yet it will be comparatively but for a moment. He will remember his covenant, and however long their trials may seem to be, yet compared with the subsequent mercies and the favors which shall result from them, they will seem to be but as the sorrows of the briefest point of duration (compare 2 Corinthians 4:17).

But with great mercies - The contrast here is not that of duration but of magnitude. The forsaking was 'little,' the mercies would be 'great.' It would be mercy that they would be recalled at all after all their faults and crimes; and the mercy which would be bestowed in the enlargement of their numbers would be inexpressibly great.

Will I gather thee - Will I collect thee from thy dispersions, and gather thee to myself as my own people.

7. small moment—as compared with Israel's coming long prosperity (Isa 26:20; 60:10). So the spiritual Israel (Ps 30:5; 2Co 4:17).

gather thee—to Myself from thy dispersions.

For a small moment; for the space of some few years, as seventy years in Babylon, and some such intervals, which may well be called a small moment in comparison of God’s everlasting kindness mentioned in the next verse.

Forsaken thee; withdrawn my favour and help from thee, and left thee in thine enemies’ hands.

With great mercies, such as are most precious and sweet for quality, as is here said, and such as are of long continuance, as is said in the following verse,

will I gather thee from all the places where thou art dispersed, from all the parts of the world.

For a small moment have I forsaken thee,.... The people of God seem to be forsaken by him when he hides his face from them, as it is afterwards explained; when they are in distress, and he does not immediately appear for them; when they are afflicted in body and mind, though these afflictions are but for a moment; nor are they really forsaken, not as to things temporal or spiritual; God never forsakes the work of his own hands, nor his people, at least for ever, or so as that they shall perish. Some interpret this of the seventy years' captivity of the Jews in Babylon, which was but a very short time; others of the times of ignorance in the Gentile world before the coming of Christ, which God winked at, when he overlooked them, and took no notice of them; but I choose to understand it of the time and state of the Christian church, during the ten persecutions of Rome Pagan, when it seemed to be forsaken of God, and to be triumphed over by her enemies:

but with great mercies will I gather thee; they had been scattered about by persecution, but now should be gathered together in bodies, and have their public assemblies, and worship God openly, none making them afraid; which was fulfilled in Constantine's time, when Paganism was abolished, and Christianity established throughout the Roman empire; when public places for Christian worship were opened everywhere, the Gospel was freely preached, and multitudes were gathered by effectual calling, and brought into the Gospel church, which was now in a very flourishing condition; for this is not to be understood of the gathering of the captive Jews from Babylon, nor of the calling of the Gentiles by the ministry of the apostles, nor of the restoration and conversion of the Jews in the latter day, though this is more eligible than the former, and much less of the gathering of the saints at the last day.

For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.
7, 8. Jehovah’s anger was but a momentary interruption of His kindness to Israel; His mercy is everlasting. Comp. Psalm 30:5.

will I gather thee] can hardly mean “draw thee to myself”; it denotes the gathering together of the scattered children of Zion.

Verses 7, 8. - For a small moment have I forsaken thee. The sixty or seventy years of the Captivity were but as a moment of time compared with the long ages during which God had tenderly watched over and protected his Church, and, still more, compared with the eternity during which he was now about to show himself her constant Guardian and Protector. There had been a little wrath; or rather, one burst of wrath; and then Mercy had resumed her sway. The face hid for a moment had been allowed once more to shine upon the afflicted people; and the momentary indignation would be followed by, and swallowed up in, ever-lasting kindness (compare above, Isaiah 26:20 and Psalm 30:5, "His anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning"). Isaiah 54:7Thus does Jehovah's displeasure towards Jerusalem pass quickly away; and all the more intense is the manifestation of love which follows His merely momentary anger. "For a small moment have I forsaken thee, and with great mercy will I gather thee. In an effusion of anger I hid my face from thee for a moment, and with everlasting grace I have compassion upon thee, saith Jehovah thy Redeemer." "For a small moment" carries us to the time of the captivity, which was a small moment in comparison with the duration of the tender and merciful love, with which Jehovah once more received the church into His fellowship in the person of its members. רגע in Isaiah 54:8 is not an adverb, meaning momentarily, as in Isaiah 47:9, but an accusative of duration, signifying a single moment long. Ketseph signifies wrath regarded as an outburst (fragor), like the violence of a storm or a clap of thunder; shetseph, which rhymes with it, is explained by A. Schultens, after the Arabic, as signifying durum et asperum esse: and hence the rendering adopted by Hitzig, "in hard harshness." But this yields no antithesis to "everlasting kindness," which requires that shetseph should be rendered in some way that expresses the idea of something transitory or of short duration. The earlier translators felt this, when like the lxx for example, they adopted the rendering ἐν θυμῷ μικρῷ, and others of a similar kind; and Ibn Labrt, in his writing against Menahem b. Zerk, who gives chŏrı̄, burning heat, as a gloss to shetseph, explains it by מעט (as Kimchi and others did afterwards). But, as Jakob Tam correctly observes, "this makes the sense purely tautological." In all probability, shâtsaph is a form allied to shâtaph, as nâshabh (Isaiah 40:7) is to nâshaph (Isaiah 40:24), and qâmat (Job 16:8) to qâmats, which stand in the same relation to one another, so far as the sense is concerned, as bubbling over to flowing over: so that the proper rendering would not be "in the overflowing of glowing heat," as Umbreit thinks, which would require קצף בּשׁטף (Proverbs 27:4), but in the gushing up of displeasure, the overflowing of indignation (Meier). The ketseph is only a shetseph, a vanishing moment (Jer. in momento indignationis), when compared with the true feeling of Jehovah towards Jerusalem, which is chesed ‛ōlâm, everlasting kindness.
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