15. And they shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall scatter them among the nations, and disperse them in the countries.
Here God insults both Jews and Israelites who had united themselves. He says that he would so display his power that they should be compelled to acknowledge him, but to their own destruction. Experimental knowledge is sometimes attributed to the faithful; because when we are too slow, God shows us his power by sure proofs. But what is here said ought to be restricted to the reprobate and abandoned, who do not acknowledge God except in death. Yet Zedekiah was not entirely without the fear of God: he reverenced Jeremiah, and the seed of piety was not altogether extinct in his mind. As regards the people, inasmuch as they offered the daily sacrifice, they certainly cherished some opinion of God's favor, and also of his power. But because they despised the Prophets, they were altogether unsubdued, and made a laughing-stock of their threats, and for this cause they are said not to acknowledge God. And we must diligently notice this. For the impious do not think themselves so stupid as to refuse to God his just honor; but yet when God calls them they turn their backs: when he sets before them his message, even for their own advantage, they are not only deaf and stop their ears, but they are even riotous, and deride all his threats like idle stories. But it is certain that no knowledge of God can flourish when such contempt of his doctrine prevails. For this reason he says now, at length the Jews shall know, because this contempt hindered them from ascribing praise to God for his power; for they had been terrified by even his nod. Jeremiah had assiduously instructed them in God's word, but they were so hardened that they treated it as a thing of nought. The threat then is most grievous: as if God had said, When I smite you with my hand, you shall feel me to be God. Let us learn then to acknowledge God betimes by faith, because this is the fitting opportunity for salutary knowledge. Let us not abuse his patience while he rages against us with a stretched out hand, and pursues us fiercely. Sometimes, indeed, he chastises his own people for their good, but when it comes to pass that there is no hope of repentance to the reprobate, then he reduces them to nothing. Now it follows --
1 Or, "dissipate," or, "scatter abroad;"
2 That is, "through different regions." -- Calvin.
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