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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Isaiah 57

Verses 1-2




1. Such was the blind thoughtlessness in Israel that the righteous man, who was faithful to the covenant, could perish and no one would "lay it to heart", or really CARE, (Isaiah 12:1; Micah 7:2).

2. No one ever seemed to consider the divine mercy manifested, in God’s taking away so many of the righteous, before the calamity of divine judgment fell upon the rebellious nation, (Matthew 5:7).

3. Having faced oppression, and been distressed by the wickedness of their fellows, they have "dieth in faith" - exalted now to a realm of eternal joy and peace, (Hebrews 11:13; Philippians 1:21; Philippians 1:23; Luke 23:43).

Verses 3-10


1. A sharp rebuke is addressed to those apostates who, in pride, vaunt themselves against the righteous, (vs. 3-4).

a. The language of verse 3 is far from complimentary; yet, it clearly describes the idolatry of God’s own covenant people -especially under kings Ahaz and Manasseh, (comp. Malachi 3:5; Matthew 16:4).

b. Why should such a people sneer, jeer and stick out their tongues at the righteous? (vs. 4a; 2 Chronicles 36:16-17).

c. Are they not a disloyal brood - children of SIN and DISGRACE? (vs. 46).

2. Verses 5 and 6 are addressed to the devotees of the cult of nature - who follow their own lusts.

a. With burning lust they sought out their idols under every green tree, (vs. 5a; 2 Kings 17:9-12).

b. In the valley of Tophet, outside Jerusalem, they burned their children in the brazen arms of Moloch - while beating drums to drown out their agonizing cries! (vs. 5b; 2 Chronicles 28:3; 2 Chronicles 33:6; comp. 2 Kings 17:31).

c. They chose idols from smooth stones and poured out their libations before them, (vs. 6a).

d. Can the true and living God, their Creator and Preserver, be expected to bear this with patience?

3. The gross wickedness of their adulterous worship of nature is portrayed in verses 7-8; here it becomes more evident, however, that the prophet uses literal language to graphically set forth a SPIRITUAL DEPARTURE.

a. The complaint is not only against illicit sexual experience, but also of the nation’s infidelity to her divine HUSBAND!

b. It is entirely possible that there is a reference here to the Asherah worship in which carvings of human sexual organs played a prominent roll, and which also led to the exposure of the secret organs of the worshippers themselves.

c. The charge is that, deserting her Lord, Israel has spread wide her adulterous bed and, while gazing upon the symbols of her harlotry, bargained with those whose embraces she loved! (vs. 8; contrast Deuteronomy 6:5-6; Deuteronomy 6:9; Deuteronomy 11:18-20).

4. To what limitless extremes they were willing to go (away from God) in these cultic exertions! (vs. 9-10).

a. Anointing themselves for Molech, they have sent him presents of oil and perfume (vs. 9a) - indicating their actual offering of sacrifice to a heathen deity!

b. Sending her ambassadors afar, she has debased herself to the very depths of Sheol - which evidently suggest necromancy.

c. Exhausting as were her labors to collect all sorts of foreign icons, with which she desecrated the very temple of Jehovah, she never stopped to consider the vanity of her actions!

d. Quickened by the strength of Him whose name she has so wretchedly dishonored, Israel has not fainted with discourage­ment, but has pursued her harlotry with vigor!

e. Before passing too harsh judgment on a privileged people who could so thoughtlessly dishonor their Lord, it might be best to recognize and judge the various forms of infidelity piously indulged by too many professing Christians - even churchmen, in our day. How zealously do many pursue unworthy goals, by unworthy methods, in order to gain the recognition, prestige and applause of this world - thus, effectively "denying the Lord that bought them"!

Verses 11-13


1. The obstinate persistence of Israel’s rebellion leads to hopelessness and irreversible ruin!

2. God wants to know what they fear so greatly as to make them forget Him - though they still profess to love and serve Him, (vs. 11 a; comp. Isaiah 51:12-13; Proverbs 29:25; Jeremiah 3:21).

3. For a long time He has held His peace (see Isaiah 1:4-6), even in the face of their proud rebellion; yet, they have not reverenced Him, (vs. 11b; Isaiah 42:14; Psalms 50:21-23).

4. Since they claim to be "righteous", God will expose their righteousness for what it REALLY IS (Isaiah 59:6; Isaiah 65:2; Isaiah 65:6-7); nor will it pro­fit them at all! (comp. Isaiah 64:6-7; Matthew 5:20; Matthew 7:21-27).

5. When confronted by their spiritual bankruptcy, and overwhelmed by a sense of their wretchedness (in the face of impending judgment), let them cry to their collection of international deities, and delight themselves in all the help their strange gods may offer! (Jeremiah 22:20; Jeremiah 30:12-15).

6. Actually, there will be NO HELP- for their idols are HELPLESS; a gust of wind will blow them all away!

7. But those who take refuge in the Lord - seeking Him sincerely, and trusting Him with all their hearts - will find all the security they need.

a. They will possess the land of their fathers, (Isaiah 49:8; Isaiah 60:21).

b. And they will be permitted to share, by inheritance, the blessedness of His coming Kingdom, (Isaiah 65:9)!

Verses 14-21


1. Separation is essential to the full realization of God’s ultimate’ salvation (vs. 14; comp. Isaiah 62:10; Jeremiah 18:15; 2 Corinthians 6:17); idolatry is a stumbling block that the nation has deliberately chosen - and which must be abandoned before fellowship can be restored between Israel and her Maker.

2. God dwells only with that which harmonizes with His holiness, (vs. 15).

a. He whose name is HOLY - high, lofty and inhabiting eternity - offers to commune with such as are of a humble and contrite heart, (Isaiah 40:29; comp. Matthew 5:3; Isaiah 66:1-2).

b. He will revive the spirit of the humble and the heart of the contrite, (Psalms 34:18; Psalms 51:17; Psalms 147:3).

3. God will not be angry with His people forever (Genesis 6:3; Psalms 85:5; Psalms 103:9-14; Micah 7:18-20); if He were, the whole creation would perish, (vs. 16).

4. The sins of all must be dealt with, (vs. 17).

a. The sin of covetousness led to divine wrath and judgment against Israel, (Isaiah 56:11; Jeremiah 6:13).

b. Though God’s face was hidden in wrath, Israel refused to re­pent, but went onward with a heart that persistently turned away from the true and living God, (Isaiah 1:4; Jeremiah 3:14; Jeremiah 3:22).

5. For such as truly repent there is forgiveness, comfort, peace, and healing - with no national distinctions or barriers, (vs. 18-19; Acts 2:39; Ephesians 2:17).

a. But, until there is such "repentance" as involves forsaking of sin there can be no spiritual health.

b. The message of perfect peace is a divine message for those whose hearts are right before God, (Isaiah 26:12; Isaiah 32:17-18; comp. Psalms 37:37; John 14:27; John 16:33; Ephesians 2:14-15).

6. Peace is impossible for those who persist in their wickedness (vs. 20-21); they are constantly tossed about - like the waves of a turbulent sea, (Isaiah 3:9; Isaiah 3:11; Job 18:5-14; Isaiah 48:22; Isaiah 59:8).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Isaiah 57". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. 1985.