28. But thou shalt say unto them, This is a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the LORD their God, nor receiveth correction: truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth.
28. Et dices ad eos, Haec gens, quae non audierunt vocem Jehovae Dei sui, et non receperunt disciplinam; periit veritas et excisa est ab ore eorum.
God shews now that he must act in a new way. The first duty of teachers is to set forth the will of God, to shew what is right, and then to exhort, if plain teaching proves not sufficient. But God intimates here that he was under the necessity to change his manner, because they were wholly irreclaimable. Thou shalt then say this as the last thing; as though he had said, "I indeed wished to try, whether they were capable of being improved, and have employed thee for this purpose: after having long borne with them, knowing by a long trial that thy labor is useless, thou shalt say to them, "I bid you adieu at last." For what is the meaning of these words, This is a nation which heard not the voice of its God, except that the Prophet, after long trials, knew that he was neither to teach nor exhort them? It is not to be doubted but that God referred to the Jews themselves; for it was his object to expose their impious perverseness. He yet comforted his servant; for he hence knew, that though he could do no good to his hearers, yet his labor was acceptable to God and not without its fruit: for the truth of God is not only fruitful in the salvation of men, but also in their perdition. (2 Corinthians 2:15, 16.) God then shews, that there would be no loss to his servant, even though the Jews repented not; for he would be their judge, and denounce by the highest authority their destruction.
We now perceive the design of the Holy Spirit, in saying, Thou shalt at length say, This is a nation which has not hearkened to the voice of its God: for the Prophet is not bidden here to address the Jews, but to pronounce on them a sentence, that the whole world might know how base and detestable had been their contumacy, and how abominable their impiety; for the whole nation had refused to hear The word nation seems here to be taken in a bad sense: it is indeed in many places to be taken for "people;" but in other places Scripture sets Mywg, guim, in opposition to God's chosen people. And perhaps this word has been used, that the Jews might know that they in vain gloried in their own dignity. He shews that they did not excel other nations, for they were themselves of the same class, a nation. This is a nation, he says, which has not hearkened to the voice of Jehovah their God.1 In saying this he doubtless amplified their crime; for as God had made himself plainly known to the Jews, they could not pretend ignorance nor plead any doubt respecting what the prophets taught. As then they had designedly rejected their own God, they hence became more obviously guilty and abominable.
He afterwards adds, They have not received correction, he points out the very source of rebellion, -- they were unwilling to undertake the yoke. Here then he excludes all those plausible pretences by which the Jews might cloak their impiety, as hypocrites are ever wont to do. Hence he declares that they had been unteachable, for they had refused correction. The word rowm, musar, often means chastisement; but generally signifies every kind of training. As the subject here is teaching, the Prophet means that they were willfully blind, for they would not be taught; Now this is the extremity of wicked perverseness, that is, when men become so degenerated, that they willfully assimilate themselves to brute beasts by rejecting the yoke of God.
He then subjoins, that truth, or faith, had perished. The word hnwma, amune, may be taken in two senses. Some refer it to what belongs to God, as meaning religion, or faith: or piety. But the Prophet seems to take it in a larger sense, as signifying what is sincere; for they acted perfidiously towards men as well as towards God. The word then is to be taken simply as meaning integrity, as though he had said, that nothing true or sincere remained in them, but that they were so corrupt that they mocked God and deceived men, and that nothing but dissimulation prevailed among them. This meaning is confirmed by what follows, that it is cut off from their mouth.2 We hence learn that their perfidy is condemned because they acted falsely; and as their heart was full of duplicity, so also was their tongue. He intimates, in short, that there was no hope as to their repentance; for had they promised a hundred times to God to be teachable and obedient, and shewed before the world any appearance of integrity, their promises would have passed off into mere fallacies and deceptions. He then adds --
Lost is faithfulness, yea, wholly separated from the mouth.