You only have I known - I have taken no other people to be my own people. I have approved of you, loved you, fed, sustained, and defended you; but because you have forsaken me, have become idolatrous and polluted, therefore will I punish you. And the punishment shall be in proportion to the privileges you have enjoyed, and the grace you have abused.
You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities - Such is the one law of God. The nearer anyone is brought unto God, the worse is his fall, and, his trial over, the more heavily is he punished. Nearness to God is a priceless, but an awesome gift. The most intense blessing becomes, by the abuse of free will, the most dreadful woe. For the nearer God places anyone to His own light, the more malignant is the choice of darkness instead of light. The more clearly anyone knows the relation to God, in which God has placed him, the more terrible is his rejection of God. The more God reveals to any, what He is, His essential perfections, His holiness and love, the more utter, tearful malignity it is, to have been brought face to face with God, and to have in deed said to Him, “On Thy terms I will have none of Thee.” The angels who sinned against fullest light, had no redemption or repentance; but became devils. “He took not on Him the nature of angels” Hebrews 2:16. “The angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitations, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great Day” Jude 1:6.
Of the former people, when their first day of grace was past, Daniel says; “under the whole heaven hath not been done, as hath been done upon Jerusalem” Daniel 9:12. Begin,” God saith in Ezekiel‘s “at My sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house” Ezekiel 9:6. So our Lord lays down the rule of judgment and punishment hereafter” Luke 12:47-48 “the servant which knew his Lord‘s will, and prepared not” himself, “neither did according to His will, shall be beaten with many” stripes. “But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much has been given, of him shall much be required, and to whom people have committed much, of him they will ask the more. The time is come,” says Peter, “that judgment must begin at the house of God” 1 Peter 4:17.
You only I have known - Such care had God had of Israel, so had He known them, and made Himself known to them, as if He had, in comparison, disregarded all besides, as He remained unknown by them. Knowledge, among people, is mutual, and so it seemed as if God knew not those, of whom He was not known. Knowledge, with God, is love, and so He seemed not to have known those, to whom, although “He left not Himself without witness” Acts 14:17, He had shown no such love (see the note at Hosea 13:5). Whence our Lord shall say to the wicked, “I never knew you” Matthew 7:23; and contrariwise, He says, “I am the good Shepherd and know My sheep, and am known of Mine” (John 10:14; see 2 Timothy 2:19).: “Myriads of cities and lands are there under the whole heaven, and in them countless multitudes; but you alone have I chosen out of all, made Myself known and visible among you by many miracles, chosen you out of a bitter unbearable bondage, trained you by My law to be well-pleasing to Me, fenced you with protection, brought you into the land promised to your fathers, enlightened you with prophecies.”: “Not, I deem, as though in the time of Israel and of the Old Testament, there were not, in the whole world, some good people and predestinated; but because God did not then choose any nation or whole people, save the children of Israel. For it was meet that that people, of which God willed to be Incarnate, should be distinguished by some special grace.”
Therefore I will punish you - o“To depise God and to neglect the Lord‘s Will procureth destruction to those who have known Him or been known of Him, and been spiritually made His own.” “I made you My own people, friends, sons. As a Father, I cherished, protected, exalted, you. Ye would not have Me as a Father, ye shall have Me as a Judge.” Rup.: “As Israel has, in its elect, been glorious above all, so, in the reprobate, has it been made viler than all, both before God and before people.” How much more Christians, and, among Christians, priests! It has of old been believed, that the deepest damnation will be that of ungodly priests.
Yet since almost all punishment in this life is remedial, the saying admits another meaning that God would leave no sin unchastened in those whom He had made His own. Both are true meanings, fulfilled at different times. God chastens in proportion to His love, in the Day of grace. He punishes, in proportion to the grace and love despised and trampled upon without repentance in eternity. Here, “the most merciful Physician, cutting away the cancrous flesh, spareth not, that He may spare; He pitieth not, that He may the more pity. For ‹whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.‘” Hence, the prayer, “Burn, cut, here; and spare forever.” Contrariwise, “we should esteem any sinner the more miserable, when we see him left in his sin, unscourged. Whence it is said, “The turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them” Proverbs 1:32. For whoso “turneth away” from God and is “prosperous,” is the nearer to perdition, the more he is removed from the severity of discipline.”: “This is the terrible, this the extreme case, when we are no longer chastened for sins, when we are no more corrected for offending. For when we have exceeded the measure of sinning, God, in displeasure, turneth away from us His displeasure.”: “When you see a sinner, affluent, powerful, enjoying heath, with wife and circle of children, and that saying is fulfilled, ‹They are not in trouble‘ Psalm 73:5 as other ‹men, neither are they plagued like‘ other ‹men,‘ in him is the threat of the prophet fulfilled, ‹I will not visit. ‹“