Having explained the promise, and proved the divine sovereignty, the apostle here shows how the rejection of the Jews, and the taking in of the Gentiles, were foretold in the Old Testament, and therefore must needs be very well consistent with the promise made to the fathers under the Old Testament. It tends very much to the clearing of a truth to observe how the scripture is fulfilled in it. The Jews would, no doubt, willingly refer it to the Old Testament, the scriptures of which were committed to them. Now he shows how this, which was so uneasy to them, was there spoken of.
I. By the prophet Hosea, who speaks of the taking in of a great many of the Gentiles, Hos. 2:23; Hos. 1:10. The Gentiles had not been the people of God, not owning him, nor being owned by him in that relation: “But,” says he, “I will call them my people, make them such and own them as such, notwithstanding all their unworthiness.” A blessed change! Former badness is no bar to God’s present grace and mercy.—And her beloved which was not beloved. Those whom God calls his people he calls beloved: he loves those that are his own. And lest it might be supposed that they should become God’s people only by being proselyted to the Jewish religion, and made members of that nation, he adds, from Hos. 1:10; In the place where it was said, etc., there shall they be called. They need not be embodied with the Jews, nor go up to Jerusalem to worship; but, wherever they are scattered over the face of the earth, there will God own them. Observe the great dignity and honour of the saints, that they are called the children of the living God; and his calling them so makes them so. Behold, what manner of love! This honour have all his saints.
II. By the prophet Isaiah, who speaks of the casting off of many of the Jews, in two places.
1. One is Isa. 10:22, 23, which speaks of the saving of a remnant, that is, but a remnant, which, though in the prophecy it seems to refer to the preservation of a remnant from the destruction and desolation that were coming upon them by Sennacherib and his army, yet is to be understood as looking further, and sufficiently proves that it is no strange thing for God to abandon to ruin a great many of the seed of Abraham, and yet maintain his word of promise to Abraham in full force and virtue. This is intimated in the supposition that the number of children of Israel was as the sand of the sea, which was part of the promise made to Abraham, Gen. 22:17. And yet only a remnant shall be saved; for many are called, but few are chosen. In this salvation of the remnant we are told (Rom. 9:28) from the prophet, (1.) That he will complete the work: He will finish the work. When God begins he will make an end, whether in ways of judgment or of mercy. The rejection of the unbelieving Jews god would finish in their utter ruin by the Romans, who soon after this quite took away their place and nation. The assuming of Christian churches into the divine favour, and the spreading of the gospel in other nations, was a work which God would likewise finish, and be known by his name JEHOVAH. As for God, his work is perfect. Margin, He will finish the account. God, in his eternal counsels, has taken an account of the children of men, allotted them to such or such a condition, to such a share of privileges; and, as they come into being, his dealings with them are pursuant to these counsels: and he will finish the account, complete the mystical body, call in as many as belong to the election of grace, and then the account will be finished. (2.) That he will contract it; not only finish it, but finish it quickly. Under the Old Testament he seemed to tarry, and to make a longer and more tedious work of it. The wheels moved but slowly towards the extent of the church; but now he will cut it short, and make a short work upon the earth. Gentile converts were now flying as a cloud. But he will cut it short in righteousness, both in wisdom and in justice. Men, when they cut short, do amiss; they do indeed despatch causes; but, when God cuts short, it is always in righteousness. So the fathers generally apply it. Some understand it of the evangelical law and covenant, which Christ has introduced and established in the world: he has in that finished the work, put an end to the types and ceremonies of the Old Testament. Christ said, It is finished, and then the veil was rent, echoing as it were to the word that Christ said upon the cross. And he will cut it short. The work (it is logos—the word, the law) was under the Old Testament very long; a long train of institutions, ceremonies, conditions: but now it is cut short. Our duty is now, under the gospel, summed up in much less room than it was under the law; the covenant was abridged and contracted; religion is brought into a less compass. And it is in righteousness, in favour to us, in justice to his own design and counsel. With us contractions are apt to darken things:—
----Brevis esse laboro, Obscurus fio---- I strive to be concise, but prove obscure.but it is not so in this case. Though it be cut short, it is clear and plain; and, because short, the more easy.
2. Another is quoted from Isa. 1:9; where the prophet is showing how in a time of general calamity and destruction God would preserve a seed. This is to the same purport with the former; and the scope of it is to show that it was no strange thing for God to leave the greatest part of the people of the Jews to ruin, and to reserve to himself only a small remnant: so he had done formerly, as appears by their own prophets; and they must not wonder if he did so now. Observe, (1.) What God is. He is the Lord of sabaoth, that is, the Lord of hosts—a Hebrew word retained in the Greek, as Jas. 5:4. All the host of heaven and earth are at his beck and disposal. When God secures a seed to himself out of a degenerate apostate world, he acts as Lord of sabaoth. It is an act of almighty power and infinite sovereignty. (2.) What his people are; they are a seed, a small number. The corn reserved for next year’s seedings is but little, compared with that which is spent and eaten. But they are a useful number—the seed, the substance, of the next generation, Isa. 6:13. It is so far from being an impeachment of the justice and righteousness of God that so many perish and are destroyed, that it is a wonder of divine power and mercy that all are not destroyed, that there are any saved; for even those that are left to be a seed, if God had dealt with them according to their sins, had perished with the rest. This is the great truth which this scripture teacheth us.