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No One Understands
Contrary to the worthless watchmen, that is, the shepherds and leaders of the previous chapter, who are only interested in satisfying their own bellies, there is “the righteous man” who excels by being taken away, before the judgment of God erupts (Isa 57:1). An example of this is the God-fearing King Josiah. The wicked mass, however, does not care about the righteous man, he is pushed away. When “devout men” die, their death and disappearance has no effect at all. One does not let oneself be warned by it that the Judge is at the door.
The characteristic of righteous and devout people is that they are God-fearing or pious. They go in peace and rest in peace (Isa 57:2). While the wicked suffer from everything that happens around them and with them, the pious lose nothing of what God has promised them. They die in faith and enjoy the eternal peace of the righteous made perfect (Heb 12:23).
It is one thing to see that righteous people die and then ask questions about whether that is right and involve the power of God. This is a problem that concerns Bible writers and every believer at times. We see that clearly in the book of Job. If the suffering and disappearance of good people does not call for an explanation and does not affect anything in the heart, that is another thing. Then faith in God has in fact been replaced by atheism, although one also adheres to religious institutions. From this atheistic attitude all other evil and abuse of which the prophet speaks stems.
The Sins of the People
There follows a striking change in the expressions of the prophet. In the preceding verses, starting with Isaiah 56:9, he first addressed the leaders. Now he is going to address the people. Not only the leaders are responsible. Although they have a greater responsibility, the people are also responsible for their own actions. The people are addressed about two sins: idolatry and adultery. These two are also mentioned together in the New Testament (Rev 2:20; 1Cor 6:9).
First there is a warning for the evildoers to come closer and listen to the voice of God (Isa 57:3-4). They are addressed as “sons of a sorceress” – occultism, demon worship – and as “offspring of an adulterer and a prostitute”, as children of sin, the brood of lies. From this they derive their character, as is more often in Scripture one’s moral character is drawn by referring to one’s father or mother or both (1Sam 20:30; 2Kgs 6:32; Job 30:8).
Everything that follows in Isa 57:5-11 is addressed to those who have gone into exile and prophetically to those who have become followers of the antichrist. They do different forms of tree worship, in which the different trees are seen as special homes of different deities (Isa 57:5). In this idolatry horrible rituals take place.
In Isa 57:6 there is mention of the worship of stones and the drink offering that is poured out to them. All this is compared to spiritual adultery, the being unfaithful to the LORD (Isa 57:7-9). They find peace on high and lofty places that they have climbed to offer sacrifices to their idols (Isa 57:7). They undergo all kinds of initiations in the higher world in order to assure themselves of business success. It does not occur to them that thereby they surrender themselves to demonic powers.
Behind the doors and posts of their houses to which they have written God’s Word (Deu 6:6; 9), they have placed their own “sign” (Isa 57:8). There they live their lives of debauchery and adultery. The unbelieving Israel goes in the future with the oil of worship to “the king” – or: the Molech – that is the antichrist. Child sacrifices are brought to the Molech (Lev 18:21; 2Kgs 23:10). Molech is literally Melech, which means king, as it is translated here. Today children are sacrificed to the idols ‘career’ and ‘pleasure’.
To strengthen themselves against the enemy, they send their “envoys a great distance”, to make a covenant with “Sheol” (Isa 57:9; Isa 28:15) It is a covenant with the devil “who had the power of death” (Heb 2:14) and who manifests himself in the form of the ruler of the Roman Empire, the beast of the sea.
Idolatry and adultery are also great dangers for us. Idolatry is everything that displaces the living and true God in our lives from the first place. The apostle John warns us: “Little children, guard yourselves from idols” (1Jn 5:21). The apostle Paul speaks about “greed, which is idolatry” and says that we have to deal with it radically (Col 3:5). Idolatry is closely related to adultery, an adherence to something other than God.
All this wickedness requires a lot of work and effort (Isa 57:10), but the people like it to make that effort. They seek new strength from the powers of darkness and not from the LORD (cf. Isa 40:31). It is possible that “the length of” their “road” has to do with making a second covenant with the united Europe under the leadership of the beast from Rome (Dan 9:27), with whom Israel is forging ever stronger ties.
They have deviated so far from the LORD, that they no longer think of Him (Isa 57:11). Instead of recognizing the hopelessness of their situation, they find new forces to continue to make connections with the heathen. The LORD did not intervene directly, but let them go their way. He has kept silent. Because He has not yet intervened in judgment, they do not fear God either (Ecc 8:11).
But he does not remain silent. When He begins to speak, He points out to them the folly of their actions. The mention “I will declare your righteousness” (Isa 57:12) does not imply that those with whom God has a dispute are themselves righteous. Quite the contrary is the case. It concerns what Israel, in his blind state, regards as his own righteousness. It is a false righteousness. Its true character will be revealed by God, which means to be exhibited and judged by Him. This is confirmed by what follows in Isa 57:13a.
Halfway through Isa 57:13 the LORD addresses Himself to the faithful among His people, a rest, a remnant. For us, to “inherit the land” speaks of taking possession of the blessings in the heavenly places, while to “possess My holy mountain” speaks of enjoying fellowship with Him.
The Dwelling Place of the LORD
The call of Isa 57:14 prepares the way for the return of the remnant from exile mentioned in Isa 57:13. They will inherit the land. Isaiah 62 sheds light on this (Isa 62:10), where the final gathering of Israel from the nations is anticipated. “[Every] obstacle” speaks of every kind of hindrance that can stand in the way of the return of the people.
In the last section of the chapter the LORD gives a message in which glory and grace are combined. It concerns His dual dwelling place: the high and holy place in heaven and the contrite and lowly of spirit on earth (Isa 57:15). Here His second dwelling place is not the tabernacle or temple in the midst of His people, but a remnant with the mentioned characteristics. They are “the poor in spirit” (Mt 5:3). Such people have nothing more to offer than the complete bankruptcy of their lives. The latter will be the condition of His earthly people after their restoration.
If we humble ourselves “under the mighty hand of God” (1Pet 5:6), He will raise us up, or as Isaiah says here, He will revive our spirit and our heart. Contrition and humiliation are cause and effect.
Peace for the God-fearing
If the LORD would constantly contend and always be angry, the spirit of the object of His righteous anger would grow faint before Him (Isa 57:16). He did not create man to let him die. That will be the fate of the mass who does not repent. God makes His plan come true to a remnant that has the features that allow Him to take His true and full place in heart and life.
Here the LORD clearly reminds us that the existence of the soul is due to His creative power. This is at the same time a touching call to contrite and humiliate before His face. The LORD makes the promise to Israel that, having stricken them because of their greed and the turning away of their hearts (Isa 57:17), He will heal him, lead him and restore comfort to him (Isa 57:18). This will be especially for the mourners, those who grieve over their own aberration and not primarily over all the injustices in the world.
Isa 57:19-21 show that the consequences of God’s actions will divide the people in two. For those who are contrite and humiliated, who mourn their sins, there will be “peace, peace” in their contrite state, both to him who is “far” and to him who is “near” (Isa 57:19; cf. Eph 2:17). The doubling of the word “peace” means complete and uninterrupted peace, “perfect peace” (Isa 26:3). This will produce worship and songs of praise. Hence, the promise of peace is preceded by the statement that God is “creating the praise of the lips”.
On the other hand, there are the wicked, the unrepentant, the followers of the antichrist, for whom “there is no peace” (Isa 57:20-21).
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Isaiah 57". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13