It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do to them; that they may return every man from his evil way…
I. THE THING WHICH GOD GREATLY DESIRES. That man may repent, thus enabling him to forgive. He ever has his eyes on the ways of evil men, noticing the slightest sign of their weariness in them and disposition to leave them. This is always a thing to be suspected and prepared for. That any man should suddenly become uneasy and hesitating in the midst of evil courses is nothing wonderful when we consider that man was made for goodness and holiness. Thus what else should we look for than frequent expressions of desire on the part of God that man should again be found in the right way?
II. GOD LEAVES NOTHING UNDONE TO BRING THIS ABOUT. There is something even touching about this word, "it may be." As if it were allowed that probabilities all pointed in one unfavourable direction, but still not one of them was such a certainty that the contrary possibility should be excluded. As the common proverb says, "While there's life there's hope." Every instance of a rejected appeal and an abused prophet lessens the probability, but it does not destroy the possibility. God goes on sending his prophets. Each man comes with his own personality, his own peculiar emphasis, and thus with evermore the same message there is variety both in the messenger and the form of his message. And at last, when the messenger gets shut up, his words are written down and transmitted by another. We cannot get rid of the Word of God. There are a thousand channels to the heart of man, and the violent stoppage of some may only result in the enlargement and efficacy of others.
III. THERE IS AN EXAMPLE FOR US IN GOSPEL WORK. Scripture shows us God using many ways in trying to get at the human heart. Surely the great principle in this matter is that every way is right if it be not wrong in itself. We must not do evil that good may come; but we must be all things to all men that we may save some.
IV. THERE MAY BE ADDED GUILT TO THOSE REJECTING THE GOSPEL. It was one of the worst elements in the guilt of Israel that it had been indifferent to so many appeals and such various ones. God did not send these people into exile upon one refusal or even upon a few. There was sufficient intimation of his demands and his designs. And we may take it that there always is sufficient intimation. With the constant extension of gospel effort and the wider diffusion of Bibles, tracts, and all sorts of printed agencies, we may say that each generation gets more of light than the one before it. Indeed, we may lay it down as a general principle that when all the opportunities of every human being are summed up, it will be found that he is without any excuse for pleading ignorance or doubt as to God's demands. - Y.
Parallel VersesKJV: It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.