And that which comes into your mind shall not be at all, that you say, We will be as the heathen, as the families of the countries…
The prophecy at this point turns from the story of the past to the prediction and prospect of the future.
I. GOD'S PURPOSES CANNOT BE FULFILLED BY THE ABSORPTION OF ISRAEL AMONG THE HEATHEN. Exile and dispersion were appointed as chastisement and discipline. And there were those among the Hebrews who thought that, as a nation, they might amalgamate with the heathen, and might "serve wood and stone." To human apprehension, this might seem the natural consequence of their experience. But the reverse was what happened - captivity and exile served to restore the chosen people to their fidelity to Jehovah.
II. GOD'S RULE OVER HIS PEOPLE WILL BE MANIFESTLY AND EFFECTIVELY MAINTAINED EVEN IN DISTANT AND HEATHEN LANDS. Lest it should be imagined that, when the children of Israel are scattered among the nations, the God of Israel will cease to exercise over them his vigilant sway and righteous retribution, the strongest language is used to express the unceasing control which, wherever his people are found, will be maintained over them. "With a mighty hand and a stretched-out arm will I rule over you... I will be King over you."
III. GOD WILL PLEAD WITH THE SCATTERED ISRAELITES WITH A VIEW TO SECURE THEIR SUBMISSION AND ALLEGIANCE. The expression implies personal interest and personal intercourse. It implies the free agency of the human beings with whom the Lord deigns to plead. It implies earnest desire for the welfare of individual Israelites - welfare which can only be secured through the conviction, the faith, the voluntary subjection, the loyalty, of these who have been in rebellion.
IV. GOD WILL PURGE OUT REBELS AND TRANSGRESSORS, AND SO PURIFY THE TRUE ISRAEL FROM THOSE WHO ARE ISRAELITES IN NAME ONLY AND NOT IN SPIRIT AND REALITY. Forbearance may and will be exercised, but discrimination must take pace. The dross must be consumed in order that the pure, fine gold may be brought out.
V. GOD WILL GATHER THE TRUE SHEEP INTO THE FOLD, AND RE-ESTABLISH HIS COVENANT WITH HIS PEOPLE. This is the real aim of the Divine government. Other steps are the means; this is the end. Sooner or later this glorious and blessed result shall be brought to pass. "There shall be one flock, and one Shepherd." The bond of the covenant shall be again cemented. The purposes of Divine compassion shall be completely fulfilled. The scattered wanderers shall be led home, for he that scattered shall gather them. He shall make a way whereby his banished ones shall return. In the land of promise, the better country, the true citizens shall assemble, and shall offer sacrifices of perpetual obedience, and songs of endless praise, to their Deliverer and their Lord. - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And that which cometh into your mind shall not be at all, that ye say, We will be as the heathen, as the families of the countries, to serve wood and stone.