Isaiah  57

 

 

vs. 1-2 - THE EARLY DEATH OF RIGHTEOUS MEN

ACCOUNTED FOR. The Hebrews were given to expect that long life

should, as a general rule, accompany righteousness (Exodus 20:12;

1 Kings 3:14; Psalm 91:16; Proverbs 3:1, 2); and under the

Mosaical dispensation we must suppose that it did so. But there were

exceptions to the rule. Wicked persecutors, like Ahab, Jezebel, and

Athaliah, cut off the righteous ere they had seen half their days. So

probably did Manasseh.  Surely at the commandment of the Lord

came this upon Judah, to remove them out of His sight, for the sins

of Mannaseh, according to all that he did; and also for the innocent

blood that he shed:  for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood;

which the Lord WOULD NOT PARDON” - (2 Kings 24:3, 4). And

God sometimes removed the righteous from earth by a natural death before

they had grown old (Ecclesiastes 7:15; 8:14). At the time of which Isaiah is

here speaking there had been such removals; and of this he takes note, partly to

rebuke those who lightly passed over the phenomenon, partly to justify

God’s ways to such as were perplexed by it.  (compare I Timothy 5:24-25

 It is thought that Isaiah was sawn asunder (Hebrews 11:37) by Mannaseh .

 

v. 1 – “The righteous perisheth” -  The word translated “perisheth” does

not imply any violence; but the context implies a premature death. The

righteous disappear — are taken from the earth before their natural time.

Yet no man layeth it to heart; i.e. no one asks what it means — no one is

disturbed, no one grieves. The general feeling was either one of

indifference, or of relief at the departure of one whose life was a

reproach to his neighbours.

 

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“the righteous is taken away from the evil to come” – Noah was

preserved in the ark, Lot was drug out of Sodom, the New Testament

teaches a RAPTURE of God’s people during the trouble to come,

a la – THE TRIBULATION  - will the above scenario be repeated

when “no man layeth it to heart”?  Compare the popular LEFT BEHIND

series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins – (CY – 2009)

 

 

v. 2 - a contrast  of the state of peace (“they shall rest in their beds, each

            one walking in his uprightness”) with the awful troubles

            that survivors will have to face.

 

vs. 3-14 - ISRAEL SEVERELY REBUKED FOR IDOLATRY.

Though Hezekiah had made a great reformation of religion when he

ascended the throne(2 Kings 18:4; 2 Chronicles 29:3-19), and had

done his best to put down idolatry, yet it was still dear to large numbers

among the people, and was easily revived by Manasseh in the earlier

portion of his reign (2 Chronicles 33:2-9). Isaiah now rebukes various

kinds of idolatrous practices, and shows the vanity of them.

 

 

vs. 3-4 - "sons of the sorceress, seed of the adulterer and

            the whore"

 

"children of transgression, a seed of falsehood"  - children

of APOSTASY.

 

The following from the Pulpit Commentary on vs. 4-5 remind me

so much of what is occurring today as Hollywood and the liberal

media attack Christianity – “caveat emptor” – let the consumer

beware – would be good advice for those of us who live today, LEST

WE TOO, END UP LIKE THE ISRAELITES OF THAT DAY!

(CY – 2009)

 

v. 4 – “Against whom do ye sport yourselves? The idolatrous

Israelites here addressed, no doubt, made a mock of the few righteous who

were still living among them, and vexed their souls, as his fellow-townsmen

did the soul of “just Lot” (2 Peter 2:7). They “made wide the

mouth” at them, and “drew out the tongue” in derision (comp.Psalm 22:7;

35:21). The prophet asks, “Against whom do ye do this? Is it not

rather against God, whose servants these men are, than against them?” Are

ye not children of transgression? rather, are ye not, yourselves, children

of apostasy? and therefore more truly objects of scorn than they?A seed

of falsehood” -  Idols were viewed by Isaiah as “lies” (saiah 45:20;

Romans 1:25; Revelation 22:15). Idolaters were therefore “a seed

of falsehood” — men who put their trust in a lie.

 

v. 5 – “Inflaming yourselves with idols under every green tree”

(comp. Isaiah 1:29; 65:3; 66:17; and see also 2 Kings 16:4; 17:10;

Jeremiah 2:20; 3:6.). The reference is, as Mr. Cheyne says, to the

“orgiastic cults’ in the sacred groves of Palestinian heathenism.” The

nature of these cults is well stated by Professor Dollinger (‘Jew and

Gentile,’ vol. 1. p. 430): “At the spring festival, called by some the ‘brandfeast,’

by others that of torches, which was attended by streams of visitors

from every country, huge trees were burnt, with the offerings suspended on

them. Even children were sacrificed; they were put into a leathern bag, and

thrown the whole height of the temple to the bottom, with the shocking

expression that they were calves, and not children. In the fore-court stood

two gigantic phalli. To the exciting din of drums, flutes, and inspired songs,

the Galli (I find it ironical that one of the people who promotes, such as

mentioned here in Isaiah,  in the Voice of the People in the local paper, The

Kentucky New Era,  last name is Galli – CY – 2009) cut themselves on the

]arms; and the effect of this act, and of the music accompanying it, was

so strong upon mere spectators, that all their bodily and mental powers were

thrown into a tumult of excitement; and they too, seized by the desire to

lacerate themselves, deprived themselves of their manhood by means of

potsherds lying ready for the purpose.”  Slaying the children in the valleys

under the clefts of the rocks”  - “shall I give my firstborn for my trans-

gression, the fruit of my body for the SIN OF MY SOUL?” – Micah 6:7

The sacrifice of their children to Moloch  was largely practised by the Jews in

the later period of the kingdom of  Judah. “It seems to have been originally

introduced by the superstitious Ahaz, the father of Hezekiah, who “made

his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the

heathen” (2 Kings 16:3; 2 Chronicles 28:3). Suspended during the

reign of Hezekiah, it was renewed under Manasseh, who followed the

example of his grandfather in himself sacrificing one of his sons (2

Kings 21:6). Under the last three kings it prevailed to a very wide extent,

and the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel are loud in their denunciations of it

(Jeremiah 7:31, 32; 19:2-6; 32:35; (I think it noteworthy that God, who is

OMNISCIENT, had never thought of requiring an abortion – CY – 2009)

Ezekiel 16:20; 20:26; 23:37).

 

v. 8 - Ezekiel 8:12 - No one knows what goes on behind

                                 closed doors  - song

 

advertisement - what happens here stays here  - Las Vegas

 

Luke 12:2-3

 

"thy remembrance"  - a memorial - some idolatrous symbol

or emblem newly adopted by the Jews  - a sort of talisman -

many commentators think it was of a phallic character  -

 

Ezekiel 16:17 – “images of men”

 

"thou sawest it" - you saw indecency!

 

v. 9 - "didst debase thyself even unto hell" – There was nothing

            lower in religion than the worship of Moloch.

 

v. 10 – “Thou are wearied in the greatness of thy way” – Judah had

            traveled far and wide from God in her quest for aid from others

 

 

v. 11 - How absurd to be driven by fear of man into

            offending God!  They had ceased to fear Him and

            had feared men instead?

 

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” – Proverbs 1:7

 

v. 13 - "he that puttest his trust in me shall possess the land"

 

In that dread hour the crisis shall turn to their advantage!

 

v. 14 - "take up the stumbling block out of the way of

            my people"

 

God always has attendants upon Him, in the courts of

Heaven, angelic beings of varied powers and capacities

stand before Him in adoration and are eager to go

whithersoever He may send them to effect His purposes.

 

"Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to

minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

                                    Heb. 1:14

 

God places them upon the walls of the new Jerusalem to

watch  - ch. 62:6-7

 

vs. 15-21 - A PROMISE OF SALVATION TO THE HUMBLE

AND PENITENT, WITH A FURTHER THREAT AGAINST THE

WICKED. The prophet, in this portion of his discourse, whereof “comfort”

is the key-note (Isaiah 40:1), can never continue threatening long

without relapsing into a tone of tenderness and pity. He now sets against

his long denunciation (in vs. 3-12) an ample promise (vs. 15-19), and

against his brief encouragement (in vs. 13-14) a short menace (vs. 20-21).

 

v. 15 - God "dwells in the high and holy place" and yet

            at the same time "with him also that is of an humble

            and contrite spirit" - "though the Lord be high yet

            hath He respect to the lowly" - Psalm 138:6

 

The heaven of heavens cannot contain Him but He

chooses to dwell within a human heart!!!!

 

It is an extraordinary condescension and humility that

God should bring Himself down to the level of man, hold

communion with him, "dwell" with him and "heal" him!

 

THE GRATITUDE OF MEN SHOULD CORRESPOND

TO THE CONDESCENSION OF GOD!!!

 

v. 17 – “For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth” - Among

the sins that angered God most against the Jews of the later kingdom of

Judah was their covetousness — that desire of unjust gain which led them

continually to oppress their weaker brethren, to remove their neighbours’

landmarks, to harass them with lawsuits, to obtain from the courts corrupt

judgments against them, and so to strip them of their inheritances (see

Isaiah 1:15-23; 3:5, 14, 15; 5:8, 23; Jeremiah 6:13; Ezekiel 33:31).

Isaiah selects the sin of covetousness here, as typical or

representative of the entire class of Judah’s besetting sins — the most

striking indication of that alienation of their hearts from God, which

constituted their real guilt, and was the true cause of their punishment.

 

"and smote him" - the form of the verb

            marks repeated action - God gave Judah many

            warnings before the final catastrophe!

 

"I hid me" - during the 140 years between the

ascension of Hezekiah and the Captivity.

 

v. 19

 

vs. 20-21 - The sea's restless action well expresses

            the unquiet of the wicked:  and the mud and

            mire that it casts up resembles their evil

            thoughts and deeds.

 

"There is no peace" for such persons, either bodily

or spiritual, either in this world or the world to

come!!!!!!

 

Mr. Spurgeon says "the only way that sinners can

be happy is by thoughtlessness"

 

 

 

                                    ADDITIONAL NOTES

 

v. 15 - The Humility of God.

 

An ancient Jewish writer says, “Wherever the Scripture bears witness to

the Divine mightiness, it brings out side by side with it the Divine

humbleness” (‘Megilla,’ 31, a); and this is nowhere more strikingly

manifested than in the present passage. God “dwells in the high and holy

place” — in the most exalted sphere to which human thought can possibly

mount; and yet at the same time he dwells with the human spirit that is

humble and crushed. As Delitzsch says, “The heaven of heavens is not too

great for him, and a human heart is not too small for him, to dwell in.” He

who sits upon the cherubim, and hears the seraphim praise him with

ceaseless voice, does not scorn also to “dwell among the sighs of a poor

human soul.” Note, in connection with this theme —

 

I. THAT ALL GOD’S PROVIDENTIAL DEALINGS WITH THE

THINGS THAT HE HAS CREATED ARE A CONDESCENSION. It is

necessary that he should humble himself” even to “behold the things

which are in heaven and earth” (Psalm 113:6). He is infinitely above

these things — their “goodness extendeth not to him” (Psalm 16:2). All

contact with them is contact of the higher with the lower, and involves

necessarily the higher stooping from His high estate. The distance between

Him and the highest of the angels is an infinite distance. His condescending

to accept the praises of the angels is an infinite condescension.

 

II. THAT IT IS A GREATER CONDESCENSION FOR GOD TO

HAVE DEALINGS WITH MEN THAN WITH ANGELS. Angels are

pure, at any rate, from the taint of sin. God may “tax them with folly”

(Job 4:18), but he does not tax them with sin. There is no barrier of

iniquity or impurity between God and the lowest angel. But with man the

case is different. Man is “very far gone from original righteousness.” He

has corrupted his way before God. The best man “has sinned, and come

short of God’s glory” (Romans 3:23). “What then is man, that God

should be mindful of him? or the son of man, that he should visit him?”

(Psalm 8:4). It is an extraordinary condescension and humility that God

should bring himself down to the level of man, hold communion with him,

“dwell” with him, “heal” him. Yet He does this. Although His throne is in

heaven, “yet his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men”

(Psalm 11:4). He “looks down from heaven upon them” (Psalm

14:2). “From the place of His habitation He beholdeth all the dwellers on

the earth” (Psalm 33:14). THE GRATITUDE OF MEN SHOULD

CORRESPOND TO THE CONDESCENSION OF GOD!

 

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Materials are reproduced by permission."