But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: you are waxen fat, you are grown thick, you are covered with fatness…
The connection between sin and suffering is natural, organic, and universal. Suffering, in some form, is the proper development of sin. Like the plants of nature, sin has its seed within itself.
I. WE HAVE A CASE OF AGGRAVATED SIN.
1. It was a wanton abuse of special cloudiness. The splendid gifts of providence, which ought to have bound them by golden ties of obligation to God, were erected into barriers to shut out God from them. An inner principle of selfish perverseness turned all food into poison. Instead of gratitude, there was scoffing; instead of loyalty, there was insolence. So it often happens that earthly wealth is an injury instead of a benefit. It detains a man's faith and delight on itself. He exalts his riches into a god. Entering a man's heart, as his professed friends, riches become his secret foes: they sap the foundations of his piety; they degrade and stultify the man.
2. The flagrancy of sin is seen in the perversion of privilege. The Hebrews had been chosen by God to a place of peculiar honor. They had been admitted to a nearer access to his friendship than any other nation. God had called them his sons and daughters. Nothing of good had God withheld from them. For these privileged persons to turn their backs on God, and act as traitors to their Lord, was sin of more than ordinary flagrancy. If such fall from their allegiance, how great must be their fall!
3. The course of sin proceeds by perceptible stages. Sin often begins by culpable omissions. There is first negative good, then positive offence. The people began their downward course by being "unmindful" of their Maker. Their sense of dependence on God declined. Then they quite forgot the God who had so often rescued them. The next stage was openly to forsake God. They avoided his presence, neglected his worship. Soon they "lightly esteemed" their Deliverer. If they thought of him at all, it was only to look down on him - yea, to despise him. Yet in a condition of atheism they could not long remain. Their nature demanded that they should worship somewhat. So they set up strange deities; they sacrificed unto demons. They provoked to jealousy, and to just indignation, the God of Israel. Beyond this it was impossible for human rebellion to proceed.
4. Sin leads to a terrible alternative, viz. the worship and service of devils. There is no middle place at which a man can halt. He either grows up into the image of God or into the image of Satan.
II. WE HAVE A CASE OF EQUITABLE PUNISHMENT.
1. It was the reversal of former good. He who aforetime had promised them prolific plenty now threatens to "consume the earth with her increase." Instead of the sunlight of his favor, he was about to "hide his face from them." The wheels of providence were to be reversed, and the effect would be to overthrow and to crush them.
2. God's judgments are tardy. He did not smite at once. His first strokes were comparatively light, and then he patiently waited what the effect might prove. "I will see what their end shall be." The long-suffering of God is an immeasurable store. He "is slow to anger." Attentively he listens, if so be he may catch some sigh of penitence. "I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself."
3. We may observe here the equity of God's procedure. By making his punishments, in great measure, like the sins, the Hebrews would the readier detect their folly and guilt. They had forsaken God: therefore God will "hide his face from them." They had "lightly esteemed" God: therefore he wilt abhor them. They had "excited his jealousy," by choosing another object of worship: he will excite their jealousy by choosing another nation to fill their place. They had provoked his anger by their choice of vanities: he will provoke their anger by supplanting them with a "foolish nation." The emotions which exist in man have their correspondences in the nature of God. Thus, by stupendous condescension, God accommodates his messages to human understanding - employs a thousand comparisons by which to impress our hearts.
4. God's agents to execute his behests are numerous and terrible. A few only are mentioned here, but these may serve as samples of others. Material forces are pressed into service. The atmosphere will be a conveyer of pestilence. Fire is a well-known minister of God. Earthquake and volcano have often been commissioned to fulfill Jehovah's will. As a skilled warrior aims well his deadly arrows upon his foes, so God sends his lightnings abroad out of his quiver. Famine is decreed: "they shall be burnt with hunger." Sickness and fever shall follow: they shall be "devoured with burning heat." Pestiferous insects shall assail them, and wild beasts shall overrun the land. The sword of the invader shall fall with ruthless violence upon young and old - upon babe and veteran. They who escape from one peril shall fall under another. From the hand of God release is impossible. - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.