Thus said the LORD, Where is the bill of your mother's divorce, whom I have put away?…
The Lord would impress on his exiled people that their calamities found their explanation not in him but in themselves; and we shall find, when we look, that this is the account of our estrangement and distance from God.
I. WHAT ACCOUNTED FOR ISRAEL'S EXILE?
1. It was not any fickleness in God. He had not acted toward Israel as a husband often acted toward the wife of whom he was weary; there had been no changeableness on his part.
2. It was not his necessity. The father might sell his son when hard pressed by pecuniary straits; but God could never, by any supposition, be reduced to such necessities. He who can say, "Every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills," the generous Donor of all gifts, and bountiful Source of all treasures, cannot be in want of anything.
3. It is not his inability to protect or to redeem. There was abundance of Divine power to preserve from captivity or to rescue from it. He who could "dry up the [Red] sea," and in whose hand are the storms and tempests of the sky, could defeat any armies of the invader, or could bring out of bondage, if he chose.
4. It was their own disobedience which accounted for it - their iniquities, their transgressions (ver. 1); it was their heedlessness and disobedience when the voice of the Lord was heard rebuking and inviting (ver. 2).
II. WHAT ACCOUNTS FOR OUR ALIENATION FROM GOD?
1. Nothing in him. He is not unwilling that we should return and be reconciled; he does not weary of his children; he has been obliged to condemn us, but he "earnestly remembers us still." His attitude is one of gracious invitation: all the days of our life long he "stretches out his hands" toward us. He is not unable. The power which God shows in nature, in his control of the elements, in regulating the tides of the sea, and directing the tempest in the sky, is small and slight in comparison with that he shows in redeeming a fallen race; mechanical or miraculous power is of a far inferior kind to that which is moral and spiritual. And the Author of nature is the Redeemer of man; he has completed a glorious work of mercy and restoration. He has made it possible for the most guilty to be forgiven, for the foulest to be cleansed, for the most distant to return. There is no obstacle to our restoration in God.
2. Everything in us. We "will not come unto him that we may have life." (l) We do not listen when he speaks; we go on our way, regardless of the fact that God is speaking in his Word, in the sanctuary by Jesus Christ, in his providence.
(2) Or we do not reflect when we hear. We may come and listen and understand, but go away" hearers only, and not doers; "we are the "people that do not consider.
(3) Or we do not decide. We feel and we entertain the question of returning; we may say, I will arise," but we do not; conviction loses the name of action; we defer, and remain in exile. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Thus saith the LORD, Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have put away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away.
WEB: Thus says Yahweh, "Where is the bill of your mother's divorce, with which I have put her away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities were you sold, and for your transgressions was your mother put away.