24. The fierce anger of the LORD shall not return, until he have done it, and until he have performed the intents of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it.
24. Non revertetur (vertunt) furor irae Jehovae, donec exequatur ipsum, et donec surgere faciat (attollat, vel, stabiliat) cogitationes cordis sui: in extremo dierum intelligatis in hac re.
He confirms the last sentence, and compares the wrath or the vengeance of God to a messenger or a minister, who is sent to carry a message, or to perform what has been commanded him. Of God's word, that is, of his threatenings as well as of his promises, Isaiah speaks thus,
|My word shall not return to me void.| (Isaiah 55:11)
The meaning is, that whatever God promises or threatens, is never without its effect. But they wrongly understand the passage who say that the word of God returns not void, because it brings forth fruit; for he speaks of the effect of the word, whether for salvation or for perdition. So now also God declares that his vengeance, when gone forth, shall not return until it fulfils what has been commanded.
He then adds, and until he shall have confirmed, etc.; for so the verb hqymv ekimu, properly means: until God then shall have confirmed or established the thoughts of his heart The thoughts of his heart he calls the decrees or purposes of God; but it is a mode of speaking taken from men, and therefore metaphorical; for it is not consistent with what God is, either to think or to deliberate. But, as to the subject itself, there is nothing ambiguous; for the Prophet means, that when God sends forth his vengeance, all the wicked must perish, for so has God decreed, and his purposes can never be frustrated. Then he shews that God's vengeance will be accomplished, because God has so determined. For God does not dissemble when he promises salvation to men, or denounces on them the punishment which they have deserved; but he executes the decrees or purposes of his heart.
Then the Prophet here condemns the stupidity of all those who thought that they could escape, though they had often heard that their guilt was so great that they must at last be visited with judgment. Though they had often heard this, yet they were deaf to all warnings; and it was for this reason that the Prophet spoke of the thoughts of God's heart.
At last he adds, At the extremity of days ye shall understand this This may be applied to the faithful no less than to the wicked. For though the faithful embraced God's promises, and relied on them, yet, as they had to contend constantly with the heaviest trials, it was necessary to stimulate and animate them to patience. It might then be suitably said to them, |Ye shall understand this in the last days;| it being a kind of exhortation, as though he had said, |Ye indeed think the wicked happy, because God does not immediately punish them, because his vengeance does not instantly break forth in thunders against them; but patiently bear your miseries, and ye shall at length find that their destruction has not been in vain predicted; and ye shall also receive a reward for your faith and patience, if ye continue resigned to the last.| But the sentence may also be suitably applied to the wicked, because they were wont to form their judgment according to the present aspect of things. Hence the Prophet exposes the false opinion by which they deceived themselves, and says, that too late they would understand what they were then unwilling to perceive.
If then we explain this sentence of the children of God, it is an exhortation to bear patiently their evils until God appeared as their defender: but if we apply it to the unbelieving, it is a derision of their insensibility, because they regarded as fables all threatenings; but the Prophet exclaims, |Ye shall at last become wise, but it will be too late.| Even experience becomes a teacher when there is no more opportunity to repent.