Why does God say that he will forgive the people of Israel their iniquity because they have reached the peak of their sinfulness? The ancient Fathers… teach that these words can be understood … as if God were saying: “When they have reached their greatest affliction and when they feel intensely the burden of their iniquity in enslavement and servitude, after punishing them for their evil ways…, I looked at them and I felt compassion for them. When they had reached the worst of their days, I was satisfied with what they had suffered. And that is why now their iniquity will be forgiven… When they had reached the height of their … ingratitude, when they seemed no longer to remember anything at all of God and his kindness, then their iniquity will be forgiven.”… When God in his providence desired to show humankind his goodness, it was admirable, for in doing so, he didn’t want to be motivated by anything. Without being prompted by anything other than his goodness, he communicated himself to them in a truly marvelous way.
St. Francis de Sales
This is a genuinely beautiful way of understanding things. It says not, as I have often assumed, that Israel, and by extension us, had suffered the utmost for her sins but that she had continued sinning! The suffering was the result of not past sin, but continual sin. It was in the fullness of sin that God redeemed. It was not a matter of waiting for appeasement, till the screams outweighed his peevishness. But just a divine act of love. When their sin had reached a maximum, then salvation comes.