Ironically, Israel’s insistence on spiritual independence would mean the loss of their political independence. Their determined and persistent rejection of God cut them off from any possibility of His intervention. He would ignore their pleas, just as they had ignored His.
But God did not enjoy punishing His people; despite all that they had done, He still loved them intensely.
“How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, Israel?”
Even though they deserved total destruction, like the cities of the plain (Deuteronomy 29:22-27), God could not bear to carry out His threat.
“My heart is changed within Me;
all My compassion is aroused.”
Now if this was the agony felt by God over the destruction of sinful Israel, how much more painful must the ‘giving up to death’ of His beloved only-begotten Son have been (Romans 8:32)?
God is not like us (verse 9): when we would be content to destroy, He will still endeavour to save (John 3:17). So what about Israel? When God calls for the last time, there will be some, thoroughly chastened by their sufferings, who will hear and respond. And so mercy will triumph over judgement (James 2:13).