In those days, and in that time, said the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none…
The attribute of completeness characterizes God's work of destruction (vers. 14-16); equally does it pertain to his work of salvation (vers. 19, 20). In both is manifested his righteousness in its elements of wrath and mercy. His forgiveness acts in perfect harmony with his severity.
I. HOW IT MANIFESTS ITSELF.
1. Retrospectively. Sins that are past are to be blotted out. A complete severance is to be effected between the era of apostasy and the new one upon which they are to enter. The strictest justice, the most jealous hostility, will fail to make out a valid indictment.
(1) In the character. It will be purified and confirmed in the righteousness of God.
(2) In the conduct. There will be no more lapses or infidelities. Israel will be "a peculiar people, zealous of good works." It is for the sake of this new future that the guilty past has been cancelled; and it is the legitimate fruit of the experience of God's pardoning grace that the "reserved" ones shall give themselves "with a glad heart and free" to his service and glory.
II. TO WHAT IT IS DUE. Not to Divine goodness in conflict with Divine righteousness, but to the satisfaction of Divine righteousness.
1. In atonement. The sacrifice of Christ was anticipated, and for its sake the national tribulation through which Israel had passed was accounted a satisfaction for guilt incurred. In itself that tribulation could never effect such an end, nor in any sense as supplementary of the sufferings of Christ, but only symbolically and representatively, such as the lamb slain on the temple altar. The sinner is identified with the Saviour.
2. In making righteous. "Justice looking at the sinner, not simply as the fit subject of punishment, but as existing in a moral condition of unrighteousness, and so its own opposite, must desire that the sinner should cease to be in that condition; should cease to be unrighteous - should become righteous; righteousness in God craving for righteousness in man, with a craving which the realization of righteousness in man alone can satisfy. So of holiness." (Macleod Campbell.) - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve.
WEB: In those days, and in that time, says Yahweh, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I leave as a remnant.