This Chapter, like the former, is full of threatenings to the people to whom it refers, on account of their ill-will to Israel. It is but short, but it contains heavy tidings.
Though the name of the nation against whom woe is here denounced, is not mentioned; yet, by being said to be beyond the rivers of Ethiopia, it is easy to discover, that it is a nation which had proved perfidious to Israel. The Lord taketh up, and avengeth the quarrel of his people; whoso toucheth them, toucheth the apple of his eye; Zechariah 2:8.
Here is the threat of this enemy. Taking advantage of Israel's humblings, he cometh on when Israel is cast down. Let the Reader spiritualize the passage to himself and his own circumstances, and he will find it profitable. If the world, or the great enemy of souls, come on to distress the souls of God's people, when the Lord is chastening them; the Lord seeth, and will avenge their quarrel. Though the Lord correct, yet they shall not; and though he brings down, he will bring up, and they shall not hinder. It is blessed to see this, and to know it! W hat a very sweet scripture, in a way of expostulation, is that in the prophecy of Obadiah against Edom, on this very account. I pray the Reader to look at it: Obadiah 1:8 to the end.
Here the Lord soundeth an alarm to, all the enemies of his Church; and they are admonished to attend to the sound of the trumpet, that then the Lord goeth forth for the salvation of his people, even for salvation with his Anointed. Every eye shall see, and all faces shall gather blackness, when the Lord turneth back the captivity of his people. And observe how striking is the prophet's expression: for so the Lord said unto me. Christ is the rest, in which Jehovah resteth, and is well pleased: and therefore in him, and his great salvation, Israel's deliverance and security is found. And hence, when the Lord swore in his wrath, that the unbelievers should not enter into his rest, it referred to their rejection of Christ; Hebrews 4:1, to the end.
I do not presume to say as much, but I am inclined to think, that what is said in this verse, is meant to shadow forth the glorious revenue of everlasting praise, which poor sinners, of every description and character, shall offer, when brought to the Lord, in a way of grace and salvation. They are here spoken of as scattered and peeled. And who more so than souls brought under conviction, until brought into a state of salvation in Jesus? And as the subject of woe in this chapter is to the land beyond the rivers of Ethiopia, why may we not suppose the song of praise, and the present brought unto the Lord, may be from the same land concerning whom the Psalmist says, she shall soon stretch out her hands unto God? Psalms 68:31. It is blessed to trace the most distant shades of whatever refers to the glorious salvation by Christ.
WHEN we consider the extensive nature of sin, and behold the universal reign of it in every nation, over every clime, and among all people; how full of relief is the thought that His empire, by whom sin is destroyed, is said as finally and fully to be from sea even to sea; and from the river even to the ends of the earth! And what but God's grace can overcome and subdue man's corruptions by nature! what shall stop the hatred of the heart against the love of God, but God's love in subduing that enmity? If, therefore, we behold the land shadowing with wings beyond the river, coming forth with wrath against the Lord's people; and if we behold the Lord going forth with whirlwinds of the south, to blow the trumpet of the everlasting gospel, why should it be thought incredible that the weapons of sin should fall from the hands of the mighty, and the proud heart be brought to bend to the sceptre of divine grace?
Reader, mark what the Lord said unto the prophet, and let our souls seek to our rest as the Lord did unto his. Precious Lord Jesus, thou art the rest wherewith the Lord will cause the weary to rest, and thou art the refreshing. Here may we behold souls fly as clouds, and as doves to their windows! Here may the kings of Tarshish, and of the isles, bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba offer gifts. Yea, blessed Jesus, here may all kings fall down before thee, and all nations do thee service! Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Isaiah 18". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany