In those days, and in that time, said the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none…
I. IN CONTRAST WITH PREVIOUS QUESTS OF THE SAME KIND. Then hardly anything but iniquity and sin were to be found. The few righteous and godly men only called attention more emphatically to the general wickedness. God is ever seeking in the earth for all that is true and good, and whatever there be of it he is sure to find. He misses nothing, searching into every man according to the fundamental thoughts of his heart. In former days sin and iniquity had been the great burden of prophetic deliverances, and the mention of them a continual exasperation to the people.
II. THE REASON WHY THE QUEST HAS BECOME VAIN. All is pardoned. There has been deep and adequate repentance, adequate atonement, and consequently there is full forgiveness. Iniquity and sin cannot be found, because they have vanished as disturbing elements in human consciousness. What an intensely evangelical verse this is, full as it can be of one of the great results of the gospel! God, who sends prophets into the midst of sinful men, calling attention to the universal presence of evil; works remove that evil, so that it shall no longer be possible to find it. This inability to find evil is not the report of man merely; if so, we might suspect the worth of the report as being nothing more than shallow optimism. When God says that evil cannot be found he means that it has ceased to exist.
III. THIS VAIN QUEST IMPLIES OTHER GUESTS EQUALLY VAIN. No consequences of sin shall be left. When the roots are gone, clean extirpated, vain will it be to seek for the fruits. There can be no pain where there is no sin. There can be no death. Fulness of life and health will succeed. There will be no seed but good seed, no ground but good ground. And hence there will only be good fruit springing forth abundantly.
IV. ANOTHER QUEST THAT WILL BE SUCCESSFUL. The matter must be looked at positively as well as negatively. Iniquity is not to be found, i.e. complete conformity to law is found everywhere; sin is not found, i.e. every man in his own nature is fully glorifying his Maker and his Redeemer. More and more we must seek to see the depth and reality of present iniquity and sin; so shall we better understand the work whereby God will slowly remove - slow]y, that is, to our apprehension - all these evil things away - and cause harmony, holiness, and happiness to rise enduringly in their place. - Y.
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.