And that which comes into your mind shall not be at all, that you say, We will be as the heathen, as the families of the countries…
It is taken for granted by many that persons are not under any obligation to act religiously if they do not profess to be religious. Some such thought as this came into the minds of the people to whom the text refers. They disliked the service of the God of Israel, and thought they should get free from it by laying aside the name and profession of Israelites, and by becoming like the heathen. What base ingratitude was this. The Lord had separated them, in order that they might be His own peculiar people; and as such He had wrought for them the greatest wonders, and enriched them with the highest privileges (Isaiah 5:1; Deuteronomy 4:32; Romans 9:4; Exodus 4:22). The thought was ungrateful, deeply ungrateful; but it was as foolish as it was ungrateful. It was utterly vain, for it could not be realised. They could not reduce themselves to the exact level of the heathen; they might become idolaters; but it was impossible for them to "be as the" Gentiles in respect to their responsibilities. And should the like thought come into the mind of any Christian — should he wish to make no profession of religion, but to be on a level with a mere natural man, to have no higher calling, no greater duties, no mightier obligations; he must be taught the vanity of such a wish; he must be told that the thing cannot be. No, we are in covenant with Christ, bound by the terms of that covenant, and we cannot, if we would, free ourselves from them. We are members of His Church, and not mere natural men, left to the light of reason and the promptings of human passion; and therefore as members of His Church, and not as mere natural men, we shall be judged. And if such a thought on our part is as vain as it was on the part of the Jews, is it not on our part equally ungrateful? We can look back on a series of mercies, more wonderful than that which marked out the history of Israel. We have been redeemed at a more costly price than that which redeemed their lives from destruction in the land of Egypt; we have been baptized with a holier baptism than that which they received in the cloud and in the sea; more heavenly food has been offered for our support than the manna on which they fed in the wilderness; a richer stream follows us in our journey than that which flowed from the rock in Horeb; and a far more glorious inheritance awaits us than their promised land, which flowed with milk and honey. Is there nothing in all tiffs to bind us in willing subjection to our Master and only Saviour Jesus Christ?
Parallel VersesKJV: And that which cometh into your mind shall not be at all, that ye say, We will be as the heathen, as the families of the countries, to serve wood and stone.