And when the LORD saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of his daughters.…
Consider here -
I. THE REALITY OF WRATH IN GOD. Let it not be minimized or explained away. "Instead of being shocked at the thought that God is wrathful, we should rather ask, With whom? and For what? A God without wrath, and a God who is wrathful on other accounts than for sin, is not a God, but an idol" (Hengstenberg). It is only, as this writer observes, when "man himself is not displeased with sin, when it assumes to him the appearance of a bagatelle," that he no longer perceives why God should feel wrath at it. But man, we may observe, is by no means disposed to treat lightly sins against himself. He never feels that he does not "do well to be angry" on account of these or against the person who does them. A very slight wound to his honor makes him clamor for satisfaction. A God who is incapable of moral indignation would be equally incapable of moral love, and could not, with truth, be spoken of as dispensing mercy. Wrath and love are opposite poles of one affection. Where there is no offence, there needs no forgiveness.
II. WRATH IN GOD, WHEN IT BURNS AGAINST MEN, IS TERRIBLE IN ITS EFFECTS. Two aspects of its operation:
1. Leaving men to themselves (ver. 20). When God hides his face from them, there need be little doubt what the "end" will be. Yet can the sinner complain if he is at length permitted to eat the fruit of the devices which nothing will persuade him to give up?
2. Heaping on them positive inflictions (vers. 22-25). It is a fire, burning to destroy them. It is noteworthy that the conflagration of the Divine wrath is represented as not only taking in sheol, but as widening till it embraces the whole earth (ver. 22). This, in connection with the glimpse at the calling of the Gentiles in ver. 21, points to the future universal extension of the outward dispensation of grace. The extension of the kingdom of God brings all nations within the range of the Messianic judgment (Matthew 25:31). The wrath of God is not represented in less terrible colors in the New Testament than it is in the Old. The individualized description of these verses (vers. 24, 25) figures out terrors of a future life too painful to allow the mind to dwell upon them.
III. WRATH IN GOD IS, IN THIS LIFE, NOT DIVORCED FROM MERCY. Not at least so long as hope of recovery remains. He would fain make punishment subservient to conversion. This is the thought in ver. 21. Israel is not cast off forever. God is seeking to provoke it to jealousy by a transference of his regard to the Gentiles. His retaliation has a merciful as well as a wrathful design. Mercy waits on every sinner, courting his repentance.
IV. THE MANIFESTATION OF WRATH IN GOD IS LIMITED BY REGARD TO HIS HONOR. (Vers. 26, 27.) God is jealous of his honor. He will take from his adversaries the power of boasting against him, by marvelously restoring those who, had they received their full deserts, would have been utterly destroyed. This stays his hand from expending his wrath against them to the uttermost. We may read this otherwise, and say that zeal for his honor leads God to spare them, that he may glorify his Name by causing mercy to rejoice over judgment. There is more honor to God in saving men than in destroying them. And what provokes this wrath in God? Sin - sin only. Most especially the sins of his own people.
1. "No faith" - want of fidelity to vows.
2. "Frowardness" persistence in sin (ver. 20).
Those who have stood in nearest relations to him, who have enjoyed most favors, are those who will be most severely punished (Amos 3:2). - J.O.
Parallel VersesKJV: And when the LORD saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of his daughters.