But if you will not listen to me, and will not do all these commandments;…
The promises of God are prophecies of good; so are his threatening prophecies of evil. Prophecy, therefore, gives no countenance to fatalism, since it is made to depend upon conditions. God may, therefore, repent him of evils threatened, viz. when sinners repent of the sin that provoked him. So long as the Hebrews were faithful to their God, they found him faithful in mercy; when they rebelled, they found him no less faithful in judgment. What a commentary upon the verses before us is the history of the Israelites! Let us review -
I. THE JUDGMENTS DENOUNCED AGAINST THEM IN THEIR LAND. For their rebellion:
1. They were to be visited with plagues.
(1) The plague of terror. This is the natural plague of a guilty conscience. The apprehension of formidable judgments.
(2) Of consumption. This term expresses all chronic diseases.
(3) Of burning ague. This describes those diseases which are more acute.
(4) All these plagues are to "consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart."
2. They were to suffer from invasion.
(1) The sword of the enemy was to consume them. How fearfully they suffered under the judges, under the kings, and afterwards!
(2) The exactions of the tyrant were to distress them. When the invaders mastered them, how grievously were they oppressed!
3. They were to encounter the anger of their God.
(1) The plague and the sword of the enemy could not otherwise have visited them.
(2) But in the source itself there is the most formidable terror. "I will set nay face against you."
4. Their obstinacy was to bring upon them aggravated evils.
(1) The land was to become unfruitful. For the heaven was to be like iron, which might reflect the glare of heat, but could distil no rain or dew.
(2) Wild beasts were to come among them. When the people become diminished by war and pestilence and famine, wild animals multiply and become formidable (see Numbers 21:6; 2 Kings 17:25; 2 Kings 2:24; Ezekiel 5:17).
(3) It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Rather let us seek his mercy.
II. THOSE DENOUNCED AGAINST THEM IN THE LANDS OF THEIR CAPTIVITY.
1. They were to be scattered amongst the heathen (verse 33).
(1) Thus ten of the tribes were carried away by the Assyrians.
(2) The two remaining tribes were afterwards removed by the Babylonians.
(3) Some of these returned under Ezra and Nehemiah, and were ultimately carried away by the Romans.
2. The sword was to/follow them there.
(1) The sword of war.
(2) The sword of persecution. So they suffered from pagans, from papists, from Mohammedans.
3. They were to suffer astonishment (verses 36-39).
(1) Faintness of heart, suspicion of danger where it existed not, susceptibility to panic.
(2) Pining in terror.
(3) Perishing through the rapacity of their enemies.
4. Their sufferings were to be protracted.
(1) The land was to enjoy her sabbaths, Houbigant observes how literally this was fulfilled in the seventy years of the Babylonish Captivity. "From Saul to the Babylonish Captivity are numbered about four hundred and ninety years, during which period there were seventy sabbaths of years; for seven, multiplied by seventy, make four hundred and ninety. Now, the Babylonish Captivity lasted seventy years, and during that time the land of Israel rested. Therefore the land rested just as many years in the Babylonish Captivity as it should have rested sabbaths if the Jews had observed the law relative to the sabbaths of the land."
(2) The longer term of "seven times" thrice repeated (verses 21, 24, 28) is also notable. These are the "times of the Gentiles," during which Jerusalem is to be trodden down of them (Luke 21:24).
5. Meanwhile their land was to lie desolate (verses 31-35).
(1) Such has been its history, under the Romans, under the Saracens, under the Crusaders, under the Turks.
(2) Who but God could have foreseen all this? How unreasonable is unbelief! - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments;