Guilty Instruments of Divine Judgment
Jeremiah 2:3
Israel was holiness to the LORD, and the first fruits of his increase: all that devour him shall offend; evil shall come on them…

A great problem in morals. Pharaoh's "heart is hardened," and yet his guilt remains. Nations are raised up to punish Israel for unfaithfulness, yet they "offend" in doing this very thing.

I. WHEREIN THE GUILT OF INSTRUMENTS OF DIVINE VENGEANCE MAY CONSIST. At least two explanations of this are to be found:

1. In the distinction between the formal and the material character of actions. The essential evil or good of an action is in the intention, the subjective conditions that originate and give character to it. It is subjective, not actualized; or its actualization in one of several forms or directions is indifferent. Towards any of these the Divine power may direct the impulse and tendency; or they may be shut up to them through the unconscious influence of providence, working in wider cycles.

2. In the overdoing or aggravation of the appointed task.

II. WHAT IT IS THAT AGGRAVATES THE GUILT OF THE WICKED INSTRUMENT OF DIVINE WRATH. It is the character of God's people, and the relation they boar to him. They have been "holiness unto the Lord." In so far as this character is interfered with or injured by the instruments of vengeance, the latter shall be the more guilty. In so far, too, as hatred for this character, either as past or present, in God's people has actuated the vengeance inflicted, the avengers "shall offend." (Cf. for a similar sentiment, Matthew 18:6.) The Divine Being declares his personal attachment to those he has chosen, and his identification with them. To injure them is to injure him. They also represent, even in their apostasy, the stock from which salvation is to come, and the world's spiritual future. - M.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Israel was holiness unto the LORD, and the firstfruits of his increase: all that devour him shall offend; evil shall come upon them, saith the LORD.

WEB: Israel [was] holiness to Yahweh, the first fruits of his increase. All who devour him shall be held guilty. Evil shall come on them,"' says Yahweh."

God's Estimation of His People's Love
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