vs. 1-7. —
the preceding chapter (v. 15) the design of the Jewish rulers to seek the
declared and rebuked. The rulers are warned that no good can possibly
come of it, even in a worldly sense. The Egyptians will give no aid, or at
any rate no effectual aid. The sums expended in purchasing their friendship
will be utterly thrown away. (v. 6b)
vs. 1-3 - godless policy - where it leads
"woe to the rebellious children" - the word rebellious is
used in Deut. 21:18, 20 of a persistently disobedient son
who was to be brought before the elders and stoned to
"that take counsel" - under the theocracy, there was
an authorized mode of consulting God and receiving an
answer in any political emergency - Urim & Thummin
"trust in the shadow of
place of God.
vs. 8-17 - A RENEWAL OF THREATENING. The denunciation of
the Egyptian alliance had been made viva voce, in the courts of the temple
or in some other place of public resort. As he ended, Isaiah received a
Divine intimation that the prophecy was to be put on record, doubly, upon
a tablet and in a book. At the same time, the “rebelliousness” of the people
was further pointed out, and fresh threats (vs. 13, 14, and 17) were
uttered against them.
v. 8 – A PERPETUAL APPEAL - even for future generations -
the written Word endures forever - Matt. 24:35
The Divine Word is enshrined in writing, that it may continue
as long as the world continues. IT IS TOO PRECIOUS TO BE LOST!
“Write it before them in a tablet” - write the prophecy before them”
(equivalent to “to be set up before them”) “on a tablet,” in the briefest
possible form (Isaiah 8:1). “and note it in a book” - i.e. “and also make
a full notation of it in a book,” or parchment roll. The“tablet” was to be
for the admonition of the living generation of men; the“book” was for
future generations, to be a record of God’s omniscience and faithfulness
“forever and ever.” – “that it may be for the time to come” - rather, for an
after-day — not for the immediate present only. “For ever and ever” - Modern
critics observe that the phrase, la’ad ‘ad ‘olam, never occurs elsewhere, and
suggest a change of the pointing, which would give the sense of “for a
testimony forever.” Whether we accept the change or not, the meaning
undoubtedly is that consigning the prophecy to a “book” would make an
appeal to it possible in perpetuum. The perpetuity of the written Word is
assumed as certain.
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v. 9 – “this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that
WILL NOT HEAR THE LAW OF THE LORD”
vs. 10-11 - "smooth things" - moral truth frets, vexes
SECULAR MEN - especially when it is applied to life
and conduct - ill results - character that would have
improved under the bracing discipline of a stern and
strict truth, continually deteriorates - men believe
themselves better than they are and take less pains
to become better - they grow vain and self-satisfied
thinking they have need of nothing when in reality
they are "wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked"
Rev. 3:17 –
v. 10 -“Which say” - Not, of course, directly, in so many words.
But indirectly they let it be understood that this was what they wished.
Compare the advice given to Micaiah by Ahab’s messenger, who, no
doubt, correctly interpreted the wishes of the monarch and his nobles
(I Kings 22:13). “to the seers... prophets” - Not two classes of persons, but
two names for the same class. The” parallelism” of Hebrew poetry leads to
the constant employment of synonymous clauses. “prophesy not unto
us right things” - THE TRUTH IN ALL ITS PLAINESS – “speak
unto us smooth things” - soft, pleasant announcements – “prophesy
deceits” or, illusions (comp.Jeremiah 9:5, “They will deceive” or
“mock” — where we have the same root).
11 – “cause the Holy One of
Holy One of Israel” was one of Isaiah’s most frequent names for the
Almighty. He used it especially when rebuking
(Isaiah 1:4; 5:24, etc.). The irreligious Jews were weary of this
constant iteration, and wished to hear no more concerning this “Holy
One,” whose very holiness was a reproach to them.
v. 13 –“this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall” - Your
sin in rebelling against God, rejecting the warnings of His prophets, and
trusting in your own devices shall bring you into the condition of a wall in
which there is a “breach,” or rather, a “bulge,” which therefore totters to
its fall, and is liable to dissolve in ruins at any moment.
v. 14 – “And he shall break it as the breaking of the potters’ vessel
that is broken in pieces” - Isaiah is fond of mixed metaphors, and of
superseding one metaphor by another. From comparing
ruin to the shattering of a lofty wall, he suddenly turns to a comparison of
it with the breaking to pieces of an earthen pitcher.
broken as when the pitcher is crushed into minute fragments, so that there
is no piece large enough to convey a coal from one fire for the lighting of
another, or to be of even the least use for drawing water from a well. A
complete dissolution of the political fabric is foreshadowed, such as did not
actually take effect till the conquest of
v. 15 – “For thus saith the Lord
God, the Holy One of
irreligious party wished to hear no more of “the Holy One of Israel” (v.11),
Isaiah takes care to keep Him constantly before their minds (comp.
Isaiah 31:1). “In returning and rest shall ye be saved” rather, should
ye be saved, or might ye be saved. The conditions are put forward, not as
now capable of being realized, but as those which might have been realized
at an earlier date. The “returning” spoken of is an abandonment of the
course hitherto pursued, which was reckless provocation of
any arm of flesh, and simple reliance on the Divine aid, as sure to be
sufficient when the need came. “In quietness and confidence shall be
your strength” - rather, should be. The clause is a mere iteration in other
words of the preceding one. “Ye would not” - They had practically rejected
the policy of quiescence and patient waiting upon God, when they sent the
v. 16 – “ye said NO, we will flee” – we will outrun the trouble somehow?
v. 17b - "till ye be left as a beacon upon the top of a mountain
and as an ensign on an hill" – an example for all time, written
the book – see v. 8 – WHAT HAS
WORLD TODAY LEARNED FROM THIS?
vs. 18-26 - A RENEWAL OF PROMISE. The denunciations of the
preceding passage (vs. 9-17) had been so terrible that, without some
counterpoise of promise, they must have produced a general despair. This
was not the Divine purpose.
was necessary to let it be seen that the Divine long-suffering was not yet
exhausted — there were still conditions under which God would be
gracious to his people. The conditions were “crying to the Lord” (v. 19),
and entire abolition of idolatry “graven images…..thou shalt cast
them away as a monstrous cloth, thou shalt say …Get thee hence”(v. 22).
(How impossible it is for a nation's leadership to effect change if the
citizenry are resentful of it - "my people love to have it so" - Jer. 5:31 –
CY - 2009)
v. 18 – “therefore will the Lord wait, that He may be gracious UNTO YOU,
and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy
UPON YOU, for the Lord is a God of judgment: blessed are all
they that wait for Him”
God is not about at present to “make a full end;” He is bent on “waiting” - His
intent is “to be gracious.” He will be exalted, that He may have mercy. He will
find some means of vindicating His honor and exalting Himself, short of your
destruction, in order that it may be open to Him to give you a further chance
of repentance, whereby you would obtain mercy. God is essentially just; sin must
receive punishment; but the punishment may be short of destruction. Justice
does not exclude mercy. If men bear their punishment with patience, and
wait for God, a brighter day will dawn on them in course of time.
v. 19 – “He will be very gracious unto thee, at the voice of thy cry;
when He shall hear it, He will answer thee”
For God to be gracious to them, they must first “cry” to Him — make an
earnest, hearty appeal to Him for mercy. Their “cry” will be answered as
soon as heard, as soon as uttered.
vs. 20-21 – a promise of support through the siege – “And thine ears shall
hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk in it, when
ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left”
v. 22 – “Ye shall defile also the covering of thy graven images of
silver” - Idolatry, greatly encouraged by Ahaz, had been strictly forbidden by
Hezekiah at the beginning of his reign (2 Kings 18:4); but the present
passage, among others, shows how impossible it was for a king, with the
best intentions, to effect the extirpation of idolatry, if his subjects were
attached to it. Evidently the Jews had, in many cases, secretly maintained
their idols and their idolatrous practices, despite the efforts of Hezekiah.
But now, in their repentance, they would “defile” (i.e. destroy) both the
outer “covering” of precious metal, and the inner core of wood or stone,
or base metallic substance –“the ornament of thy molten images of gold” -
rather, the coating or overlaying. It was usual to overlay with gold or
silver molten images of bronze or other inferior metal –“cast them away”
literally, scatter; i.e. either grind them to powder (2 Kings 23. 6), or at any
rate break them to bits, dud then disperse the fragments far and wide.
v. 25 - "when the towers fall"???????
v. 26 - All nature will become more glorious in the “last times.” Moonlight will
be as sunlight, and sunlight will be seven times brighter than it is now. Again,
there may be an under allegorical sense. The light of truth will shine with greater
brilliancy, so that all men will be enlightened by it. “For the earth shall be full of
the knowledge of God, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). “In the day that
the Lord bindeth up the breach” - At that period in the world’s history when God
forgives the iniquities of His people, and condescends to reign over them as
their actual King, either in this present world or in “anew heaven and anew
earth” (Revelation 21:1; Isaiah 66:22), wherein shall “dwell righteousness”
(2 Peter 3:13).
FLOODS OF LIGHT EVERYWHERE AND AT ALL TIMES -
general illumination and enlightenment — the spread of spiritual
knowledge and true wisdom through all parts of the Church and all ranks
of Christians; the disappearance of spiritual darkness, of ignorance, folly,
and blinded consciences. This appears to be mentioned as the crowning
glory of all, beyond which description cannot go, and with which therefore
the allegorical sketch comes to an end.
vs. 27-33 – A PROPHECY OF THE DESTRUCTION OF
v. 27 – “The Name of the Lord cometh from far” “The Name of
Jehovah” is scarcely distinguishable from Jehovah Himself. Jehovah, who
has long hid Himself, and seemed to keep Himself remote from worldly
affairs, now is about to manifest His glory, and interpose in the doings of
men in a wonderful way.
“burning with His anger…the burden is heavy: His lips are full of
indignation…His tongue as a devouring fire: His breath, as an
overflowing stream….to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity:
….there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people” - The result of
God’s interference shall be “to put a bridle in the jaws of the peoples,”
whereby the hand of the Almighty will guide them to their destruction.
v. 30 – “And the Lord shall cause His glorious voice to be heard , and
will show….His arm, with the indignation of His anger, and with
flame of a devouring fire,….tempest and hailstones”
All the elements of storm are accumulated by the prophet, to express
the terrible character of the coming judgment-lightning, and scattering
(of crops?), tempestuous wind, and hail-stones.
"ye shall know that I am the Lord" - In Ezekiel this statement occurs
sixty-two (62) times – this to a world that has gone secularly amok –
it is God’s prerogative in His sovereignty to show HIMSELF AS HE IS!
v. 33 - where children were sacrificed - II Kings 23:10
For Tophet is ordained of old; rather, for a Tophet has been
long since prepared. A “Tophet” is a place of burning, probably derived
from the Aryan root tap or taph, found in Greek ta>fov te>fra, Latin tepidus,
Sanskrit tap, Persian taphtan. The name was specially attached to a
particular spot in the
Moloch (2 Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 7:31; 19:6, 11); but Isaiah
seems to use it generically, as if there were many Tophets. For the king it
is prepared; literally, it also is prepared for the king — in the Hebrew “for
the moloch,” which is the same word as “Moloch,” who was looked upon
by his worshippers as “the king” $kat$ ejxoch>n. Isaiah means to say, “As
the Tophet of the Vale of Hinnom is prepared for a king (Moloch), so this
new Tophet is prepared for another king (the King of Assyria).” He hath
made it deep and large — a vast burning-place for a vast multitude
(2 Kings 19:35), with the fire and the wood ready, only awaiting the breath
of Jehovah to kindle it. As the bodies of great malefactors were burnt
(Joshua 7:25), and not buried, so the prophet consigns to a great
burning the hundred and eighty-five thousand Assyrian corpses, of which it
would soon be necessary to dispose in some way.
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Smooth Things More Acceptable to Man than the Truth
vs. 10-11 - In connection with this subject there would seem to be three things
to be specially set forth:
I. THE FACT OF THE PREFERENCE. Man has no natural aversion to
truth. On the contrary, truth is congenial to his nature and acceptable to his
intellect. Scientific truth, historic truth, is readily received when offered to
him, and, if not very eagerly desired or very carefully sought out, is at any
rate, when put before him, generally to some extent appreciated. The truth
that is disliked is moral truth. Even when set before him in an abstract
form, moral teaching frets him, vexes him; and moralists have been always
unpopular from the days of Socrates to those of Samuel Johnson.
Especially disliked are the teachers who do not stop at abstract morality,
but point their moral teaching by applying it to the life and conduct of
those to whom they address themselves. On the other hand, there is no
surer way of pleasing men than by flattering them, provided it is done
skillfully and with a delicate hand. We like to have our conduct praised,
our characters admired, our example held up as a model to be imitated. We
detest being found fault with, criticized, told that we have done wrong. We
do not perhaps ask men to “prophesy unto us smooth things,” but we make
it very plain to all with whom we come into contact that “smooth things”
alone are agreeable to us.
II. THE GROUND OF THE PREFERENCE. Moral truth is disliked
because it is felt as a reproach. We are conscious to ourselves of our own
moral imperfection; and every exhibition of a high moral standard, every
inculcation of high moral principles, seems to us a reflection on our own
shortcomings, not far short of actual personal censure. The smooth voice
of flattery pleases us, partly, through its contrast with the rough tones of
the unwelcome moralist, but further through its persuading us that we
really have some of the good qualities which the flatterer imputes, and thus
calling into play our self-respect and self-esteem. Moral warnings awaken
fear for the future; flattery awakens hope. Moral warnings disturb; flattery
soothes. Even when we perceive that the flatterer is cozening us, we let
ourselves be cozened; our vanity is pleased at being tickled, and asks for
nothing but a prolongation of the pleasurable excitement.
III. THE ILL RESULTS THAT FLOW FROM THE PREFERENCE.
Character, which would naturally improve under the bracing discipline of a
stern and strict inculcation of moral truth, continually deteriorates, if
flattery takes the place of honest plain-speaking. Men believe themselves
better than they are, and take less pains to become better. They grow vain
and self-satisfied, thinking themselves in need of nothing, when truly they
are “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked”
(Revelation 3:17). Spiritual teachers should beware of encouraging
men’s self-indulgent desire for spiritual ease; and, while careful not to
“quench the smoking flax,” or “break the bruised reed,” should constantly
sound in the ears of all denunciations of vice, warnings, rebukes,
admonishments. In no other way can they be either faithful to their calling
or truly serviceable to their fellow-men.
Turning to God.
vs. 19-22 - It is the intention of God’s chastisements, and their natural, though
perhaps scarcely their ordinary, result, to stir the soul to penitence, and produce a
turning of the heart to God. When the spirit of the man is truly touched,
the first step on the path of repentance is THE UTTERANCE OF A CRY.
“Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). “Sirs, what must I do
to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6).
“Lord, save us, we perish!” (Matthew 8:25). “God be merciful to me a sinner!”
(Luke 18:13). Some bitter cry or other is wrung from the lips of the awakened sinner,
who feels his own weakness and guilt, despairs of saving himself, and makes
appeal to Him who is alone “mighty to save,” in tones of earnest entreaty and
extreme longing for help. The “cry” is answered as soon as heard (v. 19). By
external teaching, or an inward secret voice, men are warned what they must
do as the next step on the path which leads to life. (So sinner TODAY, don’t
pray to God as a Christian but as a sinner – “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the
Lord will not hear me” – Psalm 66:18 – the prayer for salvation is only heard –
afterwards there are full privileges! – CY – 2009)