ch. 4

 

 

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 United States who could have had a child

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 Zion.....and shall

            have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the

            midst thereof"

 

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 judgment upon Judah and Jerusalem for their manifold

sins, and of restoration and re-establishment of the mountain of God’s

Church at the head of the mountains (Isaiah 2:2). These are:

 

  • the coming of Messiah in person for ornament and glory, for majesty

      and beauty, to be the admiration and delight of His people;

 

  • the purity and holiness of the persons who constitute the restored

      Church; and

 

  • the continuity of the presence of God with his Church from the time of

      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

      meditation.

 

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

sweet-smelling myrrh” (v.13), “His countenance as Lebanon, excellent 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”

without striving against it, are no true members of the Church of Christ,

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

 

  • in her sacred buildings, when common prayer is made (Matthew 13:19)

      and sacraments are administered;

  • in her synods, when doctrine is formulated and false teaching exposed

      and condemned (Matthew 18:17); and

  • in the secret chamber of each one of her members, when approach is

      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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