The existing division between chapters 3 and 4 is scarcely satisfactory. Verse
1 belongs to the threatening portion of the section beginning with chapter 2:1
and terminating with chapter 4:6, and so stands connected in subject with
chapter 3, which is wholly minatory (menacing) ; whereas the remainder of
chapter 4:2-6 is consolatory, consisting of a series of promises. Verse 1
is also formally connected with Isaiah 3. by the vau conjunctive, while the
absence of any such link at the opening of v. 2 indicates the commencement
of a new paragraph at that point.
v. 1 – “seven women shall take hold of one man - this verse has been
well called a “companion picture to Isaiah 3:6, 7.” As there, in the evil
time of God’s judgment, the despairing men are represented as” taking
hold” of a respectable man to make him their judge, so now the despairing
women “take hold” of such a man and request him to allow them all to be
regarded as his wives. There has been such a destruction — men are
become so scarce — that no otherwise can women escape the shame and
reproach of being unwedded and childless…..(quite a contrast with the
40,000, 000 women in the
but chose to abort it …..much less those in the rest of the world” –
CY 2009). “our reproach” - Children were regarded as such a blessing in the
ancient times that to be childless was a misfortune and a subject of reproach.
Hagar “despised” the barren Sarai (Genesis 16:4). Hannah’s “adversary
provoked her sore, because the Lord had shut up her womb” (1 Samuel 1:6).
Among the Jews childlessness was a special reproach, because it took away
all possibility of the woman being in the line of the Messiah’s descent
(compare Isaiah 54:1-4).
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In reference to the above and in light of the days in which Christ will
return, consider Jesus’ words in Luke 23:28-31
v. 4 - "When the Lord shall have washed away the
filth of the daughters of
have purged the blood of
Sin must not be merely repented of and pardoned;
it must be put away!
It is possible that the murder of infants in sacrifice to Moloch may be in
the prophet’s mind. Ahaz “burnt his children in the fire after the
abominations of the heathen”(2 Chronicles 28:3). Manasseh did the same
(2 Chronicles 33:6): and the practice was probably widespread among
the people long before Isaiah’s time (see Psalm 106:38; Isaiah 57:5). By
the spirit of burning; or, by a blast of burning; i.e. a fiery blast which
shall destroy everything (Isaiah 1:31)
vs. 5-6 - Cloud by day - fire by night - "the glory shall
be a defense"
"a refuge" - a new presence of God recalling what
went on in the wilderness.
"a covering" - the presence of God shall rest like a
canopy protecting it!
Messiah - perfect pattern - perfect atonement!
The Glories of the Restored Church
Three principal glories are here noted by the prophet as belonging to “that
day” — the day of
sins, and of
restoration and re-establishment of the
Church at the head of the mountains (Isaiah 2:2). These are:
and beauty, to be the admiration and delight of His people;
its re-establishment, and the security consequent upon His protection. At all
periods of its existence, the Church will do well to bear in mind that these
are its special glories, and to make each a subject of frequent thought and
I. THE COMING OF MESSIAH TO FOUND HIS CHURCH LIES AT
THE ROOT OF ALL. The glorious “Branch” — the new shoot of the
house of David (Isaiah 11:1) — which sprang from the old stock, and
grew up “like a tree planted by the water-side, which bringeth forth its fruit
in due season, the leaf whereof shall not wither” (Psalm 1:3), had first
to come and to dwell with man, and to reveal himself, in His glory and
majesty and beauty, as the perfect moral Being, the pattern Man, after
whom all should shape their lives, before a holy Church, a Church of”
saints,” could be set up on earth, or men could know in what true holiness
and righteousness consisted. The “Branch” came, “beautiful and glorious,
excellent and comely,” “the chiefest among ten thousand” (Song of
Solomon 5:10), “His eyes as the eyes of doves” (v. 12), “His lips dropping
myrrh” (v.13), “His countenance as
the cedars, His mouth most sweet,” yea, He Himself “altogether lovely”
(vs. 15, 16); and the earth saw what it had never seen before —absolutely
perfect humanity. Nor was this the whole. He who set the perfect pattern
made also the perfect atonement; “washed away the filth” of sin (Isaiah 4:4);
“purified to himself a peculiar people” (Titus 2:14); made holiness possible to
man, who was “very far gone from original righteousness,” corrupt, “sold
under sin” (Romans 7:14). Thus the first glory fitly introduces the second.
II. THE HOLINESS OF THOSE WHO ARE TRUE MEMBERS OF HIS
CHURCH, “Holiness becometh God’s house forever” (Psalm 93:5);
“Without holiness shall no man see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
Christians are holy by profession, by call, by obligation; if they will, by life
and act. Not, indeed, holy in the highest sense; not as they ought to be; not
“as He is holy” (1 Peter 1:15); for “if we say that we have no sin, we
deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). But still
“holy” in a real sense; ever striving to be holy, ever repenting, ever seeking
and obtaining forgiveness, ever washed afresh in the blood of Christ, which
“cleanseth from all sin” (1 John 1:7). The unholy, who “persist in sin”
against it, are no true members of the
but false pretenders to membership, “strangers to Christ’s covenant, and
aliens from his commonwealth” (Ephesians 2:12). The real Church is
“holy,” as it is called in the Apostles’ Creed; deriving its holiness ever from
him who is its Life, from whom it receives continually fresh supplies of
grace, and fresh power to resist temptation. The holiness of the Church is
thus dependent on the presence of God with it; and the second glory leads
naturally to the consideration of the third.
III. THE CONTINUED PRESENCE OF GOD WITH HIS CHURCH,
AND HIS CONTINUED PROTECTION OF IT. “Lo, I am with you
always, even unto the end of the world,” is the most precious promise of
the New Testament. Christ is with his Church
and sacraments are administered;
and condemned (Matthew 18:17); and
made to the throne of grace, and confession poured forth or prayer offered
to God through Christ.
In this presence is the Church’s sole trust. Without it she would be powerless against
the world, and against Satan. With it she may contemn all attacks. Satan can do her no
harm, for “the gates of hell shall not prevail against her” (Matthew 16:18). The world
cannot hurt her, for He who is her Protector” has overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Safe under His protection, nestling under the shadow of His wings, she is safe both by
day and night; whether the scorching fire of persecution seeks her destruction, as in the
early times, or whether, as now, the murky night of agnostic criticism closes around her
and endeavors to affright her with its shadows.
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