AN EXHORTATION TO OBSERVE THE LAW,
ESPECIALLY THE LAW OF THE SABBATH,
COMBINED WITH PROMISES
There was much of the Law which it was impossible to observe during the Captivity.
Sacrifice had ceased, the temple was destroyed, almost all the ceremonial law must
have been suspended; even the command to do no work on the sabbath day cannot
have been kept by a nation of slaves, whose masters would certainly not have permitted
them to be idle one day in seven. Still, the spirit of the ordinance might be kept by
devoting the day, so far as was possible, to religious observance, as to prayer and to
meditation upon holy things. This is now enjoined on the captive Jews, with the
promise of a blessing — a blessing in which even the most despised part of the
nation, the proselytes and the eunuchs, might participate.
1 “Thus saith the LORD, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation
is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.” Keep ye judgment,
and do justice; rather, keep ye Law, and observe righteousness. The exhortation is
general, and has no special bearing on trials or law-courts. It is a call on the Jews,
in their captivity, to keep, so far as was possible, the whole Law given on Sinai.
My salvation is near to come. The nearer the time of deliverance approaches, the
and exact ought
and His "righteousness" go hand-in-hand. It is as His righteous people,
"a holy seed" (ch. 6:13), that He is about to vindicate and rescue them. If they are
no holier than others, why should He do more for them than for those others?
2 “Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that
keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil.”
That doeth this... that layeth hold on it; i.e. that doeth according to the exhortation
in v. 1. That keepeth the sabbath. The prominent place assigned to this duty by the
evangelical prophet is remarkable. We may observe, however,
(1) that the spirit of obedience is better tested by a positive than by a moral ordinance;
(2) that as, probably, there could be little outward keeping of the sabbath by the captives,
it would have had to be kept inwardly by spiritual exercises, by silent prayer and
praise, together with prolonged meditation upon holy things. In the absence of all
the ordinary aids to devotion, the religious condition of the people must have
depended very much on their keeping up the recollection of the sabbath, and
hallowing it so far as was possible; e.g.:
a. doing no work for themselves,
b. neither buying nor selling,
c. making their devotions longer, and
d. keeping God in their thoughts throughout the day.
The nearer the time of deliverance approaches, the more faithful and exact
shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy
conversation and godliness” – II Peter 3:11 – Concerning the Sabbath –
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of
some is; but exhorting one another: and so much more as ye see the
day approaching” – Hebrews 10:25
God’s “salvation” and His “righteousness” go hand-in-hand.
"Blessed is the man that doeth this"
3 “Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD,
speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from His people:
neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree.” The son of the stranger;
i.e. the foreigner, who has become a proselyte. During the depression of the Captivity
these are not likely to have been many. Still, there were doubtless some; and these,
who had embraced Judaism under such unfavorable circumstances, were entitled to
special consideration. As Messianic hopes prevailed, and the time of restoration to
upon as equals by the native Israelites, but would be made into a lower grade, if not
even excluded. The Lord hath utterly separated me; rather, the Lord will utterly
separate me. They do not suppose it done, but think it will be done. The eunuch.
Isaiah had prophesied to Hezekiah that a certain number of his seed should serve
as eunuchs in the royal palace of the King of Babylon (II Kings 20:18). Daniel,
Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were such persons (Daniel 1:3-6), and there may
have been others. By the letter of the Law (Deuteronomy 23:1), they were cut off
from the congregation, but practically it would seem that during the Captivity they
were on a par with other Israelites. These persons feared, with more reason than the
foreign proselytes, that, on the return of
would be established than had prevailed during the Captivity, and the letter of the Law
would be enforced against them. I am a dry tree. Therefore useless, and entitled to no
consideration at all.
4 “For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose
the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant;” The eunuchs that...
take hold of my covenant. The law of Deuteronomy 23:1 shall be abrogated under
the new condition of things, for such as "take hold of God's covenant."
5 “Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place
and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting
name, that shall not be cut off.” In mine house; i.e. "in my Church" (compare
I Timothy 3:15). Within my walls. Within the walls of my "holy city" (see above,
ch. 54:11-12; 60:14; 62:12). A place and a name; or, a memorial and a name; i.e.
honourable mention, like that promised to the woman who anointed Christ for His
6 “Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve Him,
and to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants, every one that keepeth the
sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant;” Also the sons of the
stranger (compare v. 3). The proselytes shall not be treated as they fear. On the contrary,
God will treat them in exactly the same way as His original people - will conduct
services, accept their burnt offerings and their sacrifices. All this will be a foretaste
of their position in the Christian Church, where there will be neither Jew
nor Gentile, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, but a community
where all are brethren and all have equal privileges.
The importance of “taking hold of God’s covenant!” (vs. 4,6)
7 “Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my
house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted
upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.”
My house of prayer. In Solomon's address to God at the dedication of the temple,
its character, as a house of prayer, is abundantly laid down (I Kings 8:29-53).
And no doubt it was used for the purpose of prayer, as well as for the purpose of
sacrifice, from its first erection to its final destruction. But the purpose of sacrifice
so far predominated, in fact, over the other, that the expression, "my house
of prayer," comes upon us in this place to some extent as a surprise. The prophet
seems to anticipate the time when the temple should be emphatically a προσευχή -
proseuchae - to pray to God - the legal sacrifices having received their fulfillment
(Isaiah 53:10), and being thenceforth superfluous and out of place. For all people;
rather, for all the peoples. All the ends of the earth were to see the salvation of God
(Psalm 98:3); "All nations were to fall down before him; all people to do Him service."
(ibid. ch. 72:11).
8 “The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of
others to Him, beside those that are gathered unto Him.” The Lord God; rather,
the Lord Jehovah - Adonai Jehovah. An unusual phrase. Which gathereth together
the outcasts of
from captivity, and
to gather together
gather others also to
emphasis and formality, this was probably, when delivered, a new revelation.
In the present arrangement of the prophecies, however, it announces no novelty.
The addition of Gentile members to the Israelite community has been declared
A WARNING TO THE WICKED
(ch. 56:9 thru 57:21)
THE BLIND GUIDES OF
A sudden change of style marks the introduction of an entirely new prophecy.
The eye of the prophet, apparently, goes back from the period of the exile,
which he has been so long contemplating, to his own day, or at any rate to
pre-exile period, and rests upon
· misled by their teachers (vs. 10-12),
· given to idolatry (ch. 57:3-9), and
· offering themselves a ready prey to their enemies (ch. 56:9).
9 “All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, yea, all ye beasts in the forest.”
Beasts of the field... beasts in the forest; i.e. "all wild beasts of whatever kind" –
Make haste, now is your opportunity. The people have none to protect them,
and will be an easy prey. Come, set to work; devour.
10 “His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs,
they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.” His watchmen are
discernment which would enable them to lead the people aright. Further,
they are dumb dogs. Instead of acting as faithful watch-dogs, who give warning
of the approach of danger by their barking, they remain apathetic, and utter no
warning at all. It is as if they passed their lives in sleep.
11 “Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are
shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one
for his gain, from his quarter.” Yea, they are greedy dogs. Another defect
is noted. Not only do they fail in the way of neglect of duty, but they are actively
culpable. Being worldly and not spiritually minded, they are "greedy" after gain.
Anciently, the taking of a gift, or fee, from those who came to consult them was
I Kings 14:3); but the nobler class of prophets declined to make a profit of their
In Ezekiel and Micah the taking of gifts by prophets is regarded as discreditable
or every one, without exception.
12 “Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong
drink; and to morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.”
Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine. Here we have mention of a third defect.
The prophets of the time are not only negligent of their duty, and covetous,
but they are given to excess in wine and to long revels, such as even the heathen
considered to be disgraceful (compare ch. 28:7, where both priests and prophets
are taxed with habitual drunkenness). To-morrow shall be as this day; i.e. the
drinking shall continue - we will have a two days' bout of it. And much more
abundant; rather, very exceedingly abundant. There is no comparison of one day
with the other; but simply a promise that on both days the drinking shall be
without stint. (On the drunkenness occasionally prevalent in Oriental countries,
see Herodotus,1:133; Xen., 'Cyrop.,' 8:8, § 10; Dur. Samuel Fr., 13; and compare
the remarks of Sir H. Rawlinson on the inebriety of the modern Persians in the
author's ' Herodotus,' vol. 1. p. 219, edition of 1862.)
Those who look to their own way and seek their own gain are WHOLLY
UNFIT to bear the message of God!
THEY ARE WORLDLY MINDED, NOT SPIRITUALLY MINDED –
they are greedy after gain or as the New Testament calls it “filthy
Below is an excerpt from the Spurgeon Sermon:
Rejectors of the Gospel Admonished
April 17, 1881)
Isaiah spoke more of Jesus Christ than all the rest of the prophets, and yet the
message of love was treated as though it were an idle tale. His doctrine was clear
as the daylight, and yet men would not see it, so that he had to ask with sorrow,
“Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?”
It was not the fault of the
lay with that disobedient and gainsaying nation. The people to whom he
spoke so earnestly were drunken in a double sense. They were overcome
with wine, and so general was this vice that Isaiah says, “But they also
have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the
priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed
up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision,
they stumble in judgment. For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so
that there is no place clean.” What can be conceived of more potent to
blunt the point of gospel truth than intoxication or excess? When a man is
given to wine how can the Spirit of God dwell in him? How is it likely that
the truth shall enter an ear which has been rendered deaf by this degrading
vice? How is the word of God likely to operate upon a conscience that has
been drenched and drowned by strong drink? I charge you, if any of you
are given to drunkenness, flee from this destroyer before your bands are
made strong and yon are hopelessly fettered by the habit. It is small wonder
that the preacher is defeated if his ardent zeal has to compete with ardent
spirits. When Bacchus rolls the wine-cask against the door it is hard to
force an entrance, even though we demand it in the name of King Jesus.
Men are in an ill state for hearing when the barrel and the bottle are their
idols. It is not at all marvellous that the gospel should be neglected by men
who have put an enemy into their months to steal away their brains.
The people to whom Isaiah spoke were also drunken in another sense,
namely, intoxicated with pride. Their country was fruitful, and its chief city,
and they delighted in the glorious beauty which is on the head of the fat
valley. They themselves were brave, and among them were many
champions whose strength sufficed to turn the battle to the gate, therefore
they hoped to resist every invader, and so their hearts were lifted up.
Moreover, they said — “We are an intelligent people; we want no
teaching, or if indeed we endure instruction it must be of a high class; we
are men of cultured intellect, instructed scribes, and we do not need
persons like Isaiah to weary us with their ding-dong of ‘precept upon
precept, line upon line,’ as if we were mere children at school. Besides, we
are good enough. Do we not worship our God under the form of the
golden calves of Belial? Do we not respect the sacrifices and the holy
days?” So spoke the more religious of them, while the rest gloried in their
shame. Being intoxicated with pride it was not likely that they would hear
the message of the prophet, who bade them turn from their evil ways. Even
so he that is righteous in his own esteem is never likely to accept the
righteousness of Christ. He who boasts that he can see will never ask to
have his eyes opened. He who claims that he was born free, and was never
in bondage unto any man, is not likely to accept the liberty of Christ. Pride
is the devil’s drag-net in which he taketh more fishes than in any other,
except procrastination. The destruction of those who are proud is certain;
for who can help the man that refuses to be helped, and where is the
likelihood that there shall be either repentance of his sin or faith in Christ in
the man who does not know that he has sinned, and who believes that if he
has done so he can easily wipe out the stain?
The two forms of drunkenness are equally destructive, and I beg to call
your attention to this fact. Whether body or soul be intoxicated mischief
will surely come of it. Many are pleased if I speak against drunkenness of
the body, and I feel bound to speak as earnestly as I possibly can, for it is a
monster evil; but I beseech you who are sober, and perhaps total
abstainers, to dread the other intoxication; for if any one of us should be
intoxicated with pride on account of our own sobriety it will be ruinous to
our souls. What if we are temperate and self-denying, there is nothing in
this whereof to glory; we ought to be greatly ashamed of ourselves if we
were not so. Let us not get drunk with pride because we are not drunkards;
for if we are so vain and foolish, we shall as certainly perish by pride as we
should have done by drink. I am indeed rejoiced when a man gives up his
cups; but I am far more happy when at the same time he renounces his self-
confidence; for, if not, he may still remain so besotted as to refuse the
gospel and perish by his own wilful rejection of mercy. May the Holy Spirit
deliver us all from such a sad condition. I confess I feel encouraged this
morning by Isaiah’s want of success. When he says, “They would not
hear,” I comfort myself concerning those who pay no heed to my
exhortations; perhaps it is no more my fault than it was Isaiah’s. At any
rate, if Isaiah still went on speaking even when he cried, “Who hath
believed our report?” much more may I, who am so much inferior to him,
be willing to persevere in telling out my Master’s message as long as my
tongue will move.* Peradventure God may grant repentance to the
obstinate, and ears may yet be unstopped, and hearts may yet be softened;
therefore, let us try again, and once more publish the glad tidings of peace.
If the blessed Spirit be with us we shall not give the gospel call in vain, but
men will fly to Jesus as doves to their windows.
· Below is the inscription on the grave monument of
“E'er since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply
Redefining love has been my theme
And shall be till I die
Then in a nobler sweeter song
I'll sing Thy power to save
When this poor lisping stammering tongue
Lies silent in the grave.”
"Excerpted text Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.
Materials are reproduced by permission."
This material can be found at:
If this exposition is helpful, please share with others.