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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 57

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

Verses 1-21


Corruption and idolatry (56:9-57:21)

The Assyrian captivity of the northerners and the Babylonian captivity of the southerners did not include the whole populations. Those who were of no use to the conquerors were left behind, along with scattered country people who escaped the enemy. These and their descendants soon followed the old religious practices of the Canaanite people. They worshipped idols, offered human sacrifices to the god Molech, and practised fertility rites with religious prostitutes, all in the hope of becoming prosperous (2 Kings 17:24-41). Those who engaged in these practices tried to join in the worship of Yahweh when the Jews returned from captivity.

Israel’s spiritual leaders should have been like alert watchmen, who warned the people of these dangers and instructed them in the ways of God. Instead, says the prophet, they are like lazy, overfed watchdogs who can only sleep. They are interested only in personal gain and do not care for the people. The civil leaders (likened to bad shepherds) are equally greedy and corrupt (9-12).
In such conditions the righteous are the ones who suffer. They find relief only when they rest in death (57:1-2). The wicked, meanwhile, carry on with their witchcraft, immorality, idolatry and child sacrifice. They do not realize that by their behaviour they are challenging God and inviting his judgment (3-6). Although their idolatrous practices involve costly sacrifices, shameful behaviour and tiresome journeys, they persist in them, hoping vainly for a better life (7-10).
Although the people have turned from God to worthless idols, God has been patient with them. But his patience has not led them to repentance. They will now find that their gods will not save them from God’s punishment (11-13).
By contrast, God will help those faithful to him, no matter what obstacles are in their way. Although he is exalted above the heavens, he also dwells with those who humbly acknowledge their sin and turn from it (14-15). He may punish them when they do wrong, but he does not remain angry with them. When they humbly acknowledge their wrong and show their desire to please him again, he gives them new life and strength (16-18). The repentant enjoy peace and fellowship with God, but the wicked live in a turmoil of uncleanness. They will be excluded from God’s peace for ever (19-21).

Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Isaiah 57". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/isaiah-57.html. 2005.
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