24 Therefore will I scatter them as the stubble that passeth away by the wind of the wilderness.
24 Et dispergam (vel, dissipabo) eos quasi stipulam transeuntem ad ventum deserti.
This is an inference which Jeremiah draws from the last verse. As long as there is any hope of repentance, there is also room for mercy; God often declares that he is long-suffering. Then the most wicked might object and say, that God is too rigid, because he waits not until they return to a sound mind. Now the Prophet had said that it was all over with the people: here therefore he meets the objection, and shews that extreme calamity was justly brought on them by God, because the Jews had obstinately hardened themselves in their vices and wickedness.
After having shewn, therefore, that corruption was inherent in them, as blackness in the skin of an Ethiopian, and as spots in panthers, he now comes to this conclusion -- I will scatter them as stubble which passes away by the wind of the desert This scattering denotes their exile; as though he had said, |I will banish them, that they may know that they are deprived of the inheritance in which they place their safety and their happiness.| For the Jews gloried in this only -- that they were God's people, because the Temple was built among them, and because they dwelt in the land promised to them. They then thought that God was in a manner tied to them, while they possessed that inheritance. Hence Jeremiah declares, that they would become like stubble carried away by the wind.
He mentions the wind of the desert, that is, the wind of the south, which was the most violent in that country. The south wind, as we know, was also pestilential; the air also was more disturbed by the south wind than by any other, for it raised storms and tempests. Therefore the Scripture, in setting forth any turbulent movement, often adopts this similitude. Some think that Jeremiah alludes to the Egyptians; but I see no reason to seek out any refined explanation, when this mode of speaking is commonly adopted. Then by this similitude of south wind God intimates the great power of his vengeance; as though he had said, |Even if the Jews think that they have a firm standing in the promised land, they are wholly deceived, for God will with irresistible force expel them.| And he compares them to stubble, while yet they boasted that they were like trees planted in that land; and we have before seen that they had been planted as it were by the hand of God; but they wanted the living root of piety, they were therefore to be driven far away like stubble.
Let us then learn from this passage not to abuse the patience of God: for though he may suspend for a time the punishment we deserve, yet when he sees that we go on in our wickedness, he will come to extreme measures, and will deal with us without mercy as those who are past remedy. It follows --