vs. 1-4 - A WARNING
eagle glance over the whole world and over all time. He has denounced
woe upon all the principal nations of the earth (Isaiah 13-23.), glanced at
the destruction of the world itself (Isaiah 24:17-20), and sung songs
over the establishment of Christ’s kingdom, and the ingathering of the
nations into it (Isaiah 25-27.). In the present chapter he returns to the
condition of things in his own time and among his own people. After a
brief warning, addressed to
through self-indulgence and lack of knowledge (vs. 7-12). He then
proceeds to expostulate seriously
with the “rulers of
lies the chief responsibility for its future.
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v. 1 – “Woe…crown of pride….drunkards of Ephraim,” or of the ten
tribes, were at once intoxicated with wine (Amos 4:1; 6:6 “and
are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph) and with pride (Amos 6:13).
"whose glorious beauty is a fading flower" -The “glorious beauty” of
houses,” distinct each from the other (Amos 3:15); “ivory palaces”
(1 Kings 22:39; Amos 3:15); a wealth of “gardens, vineyards, fig-orchards,
and olive yards” (Amos 4:9); residences of “hewn stone” (Amos 5:11);
feasts enlivened with “the melody of viols” (Amos 5:23); “beds of ivory”
(Amos 6:4); “wine in bowls” (Amos. 6:6); “chief ointments” (Amos 6:6);
constituted a total of luxurious refinement beyond which few had
proceeded at the time.
v. 2 – “the Lord hath a mighty and strong one” - God has in reserve a
mighty power, which He will let loose upon
sword” (Psalm 17:13), and are employed to carry out His sentences. In
the present ease the “mighty and strong one” is the Assyrian power – “as a
tempest of hail - the fearfully devastating force of an Assyrian
invasion is set forth under three distinct images — a hailstorm, a furious
tempest of wind, and a violent inundation — as though so only could its
full horror be depicted. War is always a horrible scourge; but in ancient
times, and with a people so cruel as the Assyrians, it was a calamity
exceeding in terribleness the utmost that the modern reader can conceive.
It involved the wholesale burning of cities and villages, the wanton
destruction of trees and crops, the slaughter of thousands in battles and
sieges, the subsequent massacre of hundreds in cold blood, the plunder of
all classes, and the deportation of tens of thousands of captives, who were
carried into hopeless servitude in a strange land.
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vs. 3-4 – ditto – a repetition of vs. 1-2
vs. 5-6 – THE FALL OF
OFFER OF FAVOR TO
of all possible warnings to
perished through want of faith in Jehovah. She had turned to other gods;
she had trusted in her own “glory” and “beauty;” and she had trusted in
would take Jehovah for her “Crown of glory” and “Diadem of beauty,”
He was willing to be so taken. He was willing to impart a “spirit of judgment”
to her rulers, and “strength”
to her armed force. (
profit from this offer and get a “dose or two”! CY – 2009)
“In that day shall the Lord of hosts be” - This is an offer,
and something more than an offer. It is implied that, to some extent, the
offer would be accepted. And clearly the closing of the clouds around
Hezekiah came to the
throne only three years before the fatal siege of
began. His accession must have been nearly contemporaneous with that
expedition of Shal-maneser against Hoshea, when he “shut him up, and bound
him in prison” (2 Kings 17:4). Yet he was not daunted by his neighbor’s peril.
He began his reign with a political revolution and a religious reformation.
He threw off the yoke of
Kings 18:7), and he cleared the land of idols and idol-worship. It was the
dawn of a day of promise, such as the prophet seems to point to in these
two verses. Unhappily, the dawn was soon clouded over (vs. 7-9) – “the
residue of His people” – i.e. Judah. All admit that “they also,” in v. 7,
refers to Judah, and Judah only; but the sole antecedent to “they also” is
this mention of the residue of God’s people.
“for a spirit of judgment” - How far
the spirit of just judgment was made apparent in the very opening chapter
of Isaiah’s prophecy (vs. 15-27) – “to him that sitteth in judgment”
rather, that sitteth on the judgment-seat (Cheyne). “for strength to them
that turn the battle to the gate” - i.e. “to those who repulse an enemy, and
drive him back to his own city’s gate” (2 Kings 18:8, “He smote
Philistines, even unto
Hezekiah was but a half-reformation. It put away idolatry, but it left
untouched a variety of moral evils, as:
The very priests and “prophets” gave way to the disgusting habit, and came
drunk to the most solemn functions of religious teaching and hearing
Scorn and mockery of God’s true prophets. The teaching of Isaiah was
made light of by the officials of the priestly and prophetic orders, who
claimed to be quite as competent to instruct men in their duties as himself.
They seem to have ridiculed the mode of his teaching — its catch-words,
as they thought them, and its insistence on minutiae.
v. 7 - "they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink
are out of the way.....they err in vision, they stumble in judgment"
The verbs express the physical effects of intoxication.
“the priest and the prophet” - Priests were forbidden by the law to
drink any wine or strong drink previously to their taking part in
the service of the tabernacle – on penalty of death (Leviticus 10:9)
"Where there is no vision the people perish" – Proverbs 29:18
v. 9 – “Whom shall he teach knowledge? -A sudden and abrupt transition.
The best explanation seems to be that suggested by Jerome, and followed by
Bishop Lowth and most commentators, viz. that the prophet dramatically
introduces his adversaries as replying to him with taunting speeches.
“Whom does he think he is teaching?” they ask. “Mere children, just
weaned from their mother’s milk, and taken away from the breast? Does he
forget that we are grown men — nay, priests and prophets? And what poor
teaching it is! What ‘endless petty teasing’! -“precept upon precept, line
upon line” - The intention is to throw ridicule upon the smallness and
vexatious character of the prophet’s interminable and uninterrupted
chidings. “knowledge... doctrine - Technical terms in Isaiah’s
teaching, which his adversaries seem to have ridiculed as “catch-words.”
The term translated “doctrine” means properly “tidings,” and involves the
idea that the prophet obtained the teaching so designated by DIRECT
REVELATION FROM GOD!
vs. 10,13 -. A teaching which seemed to them narrow, childish
and wearisome under which they chafed and fretted and
at last rebelled but only to be “snared and taken”
vs. 11-13 -
their scorn of His prophet, and, as they will not be taught by his utterances,
which they find to be childish and unrefined, will teach them by utterances
still more unrefined — those of the Assyrians, which will be quite as
monotonous and quite as full of minutiae as Isaiah’s. (I remember a
former pastor, Bro. Howard Prather, in the 1960’s at
IF MEN CANNOT UNDERSTAND OR APPRECIATE PLAIN WORDS,
AS GOD USED TO SEND TO HIS PEOPLE, THEN:
v. 11 - The Assyrians will do the job but “with stammering lips and
another tongue” – The Assyrian language, though a Semitic idiom
nearly allied to Hebrew, was sufficiently different to sound in the ears
of a Jew like his own tongue mispronounced and barbarized.
v. 12 - God had from remote times offered to His people
a "rest" - a refreshing life of ease and peace in
see Deut. 28:1-14 - they rejected this rest and refused
to observe the condition on which it was promisted -
vs. 14-22 - THE REBUKE OF
the nobles under the later Jewish monarchy is very apparent throughout
Isaiah’s prophecy. It is they, and not the king, who are always blamed for
bad government (Isaiah 1:10-23; 3:12-15) or errors of policy
(Isaiah 9:15, 16; 22:15-19). Isaiah now turns from a denunciation
of the priests and prophets, who especially opposed his teaching, to a
threatening of the great men who guided the course of public affairs. He
taxes them with being “men of scorn” (v. 14), i.e. scorners of Jehovah,
and with” a proud and insolent self-confidence”. They have made, or are
about to make, secret arrangements which will, they believe, secure
against suffering injury at the hands of the Assyrians, and are quite satisfied
with what they have done, and fear no evil. Isaiah is instructed that their
boasted arrangements will entirely fail in the time of trial — their “refuge”
then ensue a time of “vexation” and discomfort (vs. 19, 20) — God’s anger
will be poured out upon the land in strange ways (v. 21). He therefore warns
the rulers to lay aside their scorn of God, and humble themselves, lest a worse
thing happen to them (v. 22).
v. 14 – So with the “scorners”whose mental pride has puffed them up, God
can abase them in a moment by mental disease, brain-softening,
paralysis, sense of depression, disgust with life. How the bald atheist
trembles, and wishes that he could retract his daring speeches, when
he is struck down by sickness, crippled, bedridden, palsied perhaps.
God does not always launch His bolts in this life; but He can at any
time do so, and He does it with sufficient frequency to leave men
without excuse if they do not note, and profit, by His warnings.
v. 15 - "We have made A COVENANT WITH DEATH and WITH HELL
ARE WE AT AGREEMENT.....we have made LIES OUR REFUGE,
and UNDER FALSEHOOD HAVE WE HID OURSELVES" – the
words are a boast, that they have provided for their own safety
by some secret agreement??????
vs. 16-17 – “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in
foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a SURE
foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste” – (not be
CHRIST IS THAT TRUE ROCK - In contrast with the insecure refuge
and false ground of confidence whereon the nobles relied, the prophet puts
forward THE ONE SURE “ROCK” on which complete dependence may be
“Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet:”
- the execution of justice and judgment will be with all strictness and
v. 18 - cleverness come to naught – God taking man in his own craftiness –
I Corinthians 1:19, 3:19
v. 19 - "it shall be a vexation only to understand the
report" - when a man's ways come home to him -
a la - I Kings 22:25 –
Rather, it will be sheer terror to understand the doctrine. There is an allusion
to v. 9. They had thought scorn of Isaiah’s “doctrine,” when he taught it
them by word of mouth; they will understand it but too well, and find it”
nothing but a terror,” when it is impressed on them by the preaching of facts.
v. 20 - We have a proverb, “As a man makes his bed, so must he lie in it.”
The Jews will have made themselves a bed in which they can have
NO COMFORT, NO EAST, and consequently NO REST. But they
will only have themselves to blame for it.
v. 21b - God working against His people - a strange act but
the people exhibited strange conduct - they had become as it
were Philistines, as He had warned in Deuteronomy 7:1-6!
v. 22 – “be ye not mockers (God is not mocked – Galatians 6:7-8), lest
your bands me made strong: (the chains of habit are not usually
felt until they are to strong to be broken) …..from the Lord God
of hosts a consumption, even determined upon the WHOLE
CALAMITY SWOOPS DOWN AT LAST. Even if no special
judgment is sent to punish the scorner, there arrives at last of necessity the
time of old age, weakness, weariness; there arrives at last death; and, some
time before death, the fear of death. The scorner must go to that God
whose message he has scorned, whose messengers he has treated with
contempt and contumely. “A consummation is decreed.” - He must “fall into
the hands of the living God!” Then the folly of that “brave” conduct on
which he prided himself becomes apparent, and he would fain retract his
old speeches, and submit himself, and make his peace. But the words
addressed to scorners (Proverbs 1:22) sound in his ears and hold him
back: “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my
hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at naught all my counsel, and
would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock
when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your
destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon
you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me
early, but they shall not find me: for that they hated knowledge, and did not
choose the fear of the Lord: they would none of my counsel: they despised
all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and
be filled with their own devices. For the turning away of the simple shall
slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them” (Proverbs 1:24-32)
vs. 23-29. — A PARABLE TO COMFORT BELIEVERS. Isaiah is always
careful to intermingle promises with his threats, comfort with his denunciations.
Like his great Master, of whom he prophesied, he was fain not to “break the
bruised reed” or “quench the smoking flax.” When he had searched men’s wounds
with the probe, he was careful to pour in oil and wine. So now, having denounced
consolation and encouragement for the better disposed, whose hearts he hopes to
have touched and stirred by his warning. This consolation he puts in a parabolic
form, leaving it to their spiritual insight (through the leadership of the Holy Spirit,
to discover the meaning.
vs. 28-29 - God's working - afflictions sent to His people are
adapted to detach the good seed from the husks - not
to crush or injure - Jesus would not "break the bruised
reed nor quench the smoking flax" - then "is bread corn
bruised?" - no is the answer in meaning of original
God's working is similar to the thresher.
DIFFICULTIES are a call for us to use the utmost intellect which
God has given us - not an excuse for PUSHING REASON FROM
ITS SEAT and RUSHING, THROUGH STRONG DRINK, INTO