For Israel has not been forsaken, nor Judah of his God, of the LORD of hosts…
I. AN APPARENT FORSAKING. Israel looked forsaken. It was in exile, in captivity, and under the asserted judgment of Jehovah. We have always, to a certain extent, to accept the appearances of things. God's presence had been manifested in outward favour and prosperity, and what was more plausible than to say that the withdrawing of the favour and prosperity meant the withdrawing of God himself? But then it is forgotten that God's presence may be manifested in many ways. Outward prosperity is not essential to signify God's satisfaction with us. Nor must we infer that, because a backsliding Christian has fallen into trouble and misery, therefore God has forsaken him. The signs of man forsaking God are made very clear, so that there may be all possible incentives to repentance; but if God ever does forsake a man, leaving him utterly to his own folly and recklessness, no sign of it is given to us. There is quite enough already in our own wild fancies to make us desponding and despairing.
II. A PLAUSIBLE CAUSE FOR FORSAKING. The land of Israel was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel. Men think of God as they do of themselves. The patience of the human master soon gets exhausted with the servant who disobeys many commandments and obeys others in the most perfunctory way.
III. A REAL CAUSE FOR CLOSE ADHERENCE. That Israel, chosen and beloved of God, fills his land with sin, so far from being a reason for forsaking, is a reason for closer adherence than ever. The shepherd leaves the ninety-nine sheep in safety and goes into the wilderness after the lost one. If only men, brought at last to a sense of their wickedness and recklessness, could see how near God is to them, how ready and able to help, they would be filled with hope. "God is love," and therefore the greater our need the greater his nearness. The real difficulty is that we flee to the succours and solaces of self, and so the nearness of Cod, with all his suitable and ample supplies, is only too easily obscured.
IV. A FRESH MANIFESTATION OF THE HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL. Never does God's holiness so appear as when he is dealing with sinners in the way of long suffering, if perchance they will surrender at last and permit him to restore them to righteousness and peace. Surely God's holiness shines most in his greatest attribute, and that is love. God is marked off from all created things by his power and his righteousness, but most of all by his transcendent love. Here is the most glorious aspect of his holiness, that, no matter how much men may sin against him, neglect his will, and abuse his world, yet, when they are ready to turn, he is close at hand with everything prepared to receive them. - Y.
Parallel VersesKJV: For Israel hath not been forsaken, nor Judah of his God, of the LORD of hosts; though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel.