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Amidst many threatenings to the people for their rebellions, this chapter contains some most glorious descriptions of the person of Christ, and the wonders of salvation in him.
We shall find the best illustration of the things here spoken by reading with it the prophecy of Hosea who had delivered the greater part of his prophecy somewhat about fifty years before this part of Isaiah's ministry. Ephraim, which represents the ten tribes, being settled in Samaria, a rich and flourishing country, waxed fat and kicked, and perverted the Lord's bounties into occasions of sin. The Lord therefore was now preparing an instrument to humble his people, and, in the king of Assyria, was about to bring up a mighty and strong one, as the Lord is pleased to call him, which should bring them down. Reader! what a sad thought, but how true it is, that from the propensity of our fallen nature, that which should restrain from sin, is made by us the very means of indulging in sin; and because a gracious God pours out a greater fulness of his blessings, we take therefrom a greater freedom to offend!
How blessed do these verses come in, after such views as the former held forth of man's sin, to afford relief, in the contemplation of God's glory. I hope the Reader is too well taught by the Holy Ghost, to need any other information of who is here meant, by the crown of glory and a diadem of beauty. Surely none but Jesus the Mediator can come up to this Character. And if the Reader will turn to the sixty-second chapter of Isaiah's prophecy, verses 2 and 3 (Isaiah 62:2-3 ) , he will there find Jehovah's promises to the Lord Christ, as the Head of his Church, under those very characters. And when the Reader hath done this, if he will turn to the fourth chapter of the same prophecy, he will find no less instruction concerning this Spirit of judgment and of burning, by which the Lord carries on his purposes of grace in the hearts of his people. I only detain the Reader to remark yet further on this passage, that by what is here said of the residue of his people, probably is meant the kingdom of Judah, or, if not, some of God's hidden ones in Ephraim, who might be alarmed in the times of general calamity. Reader! it is blessed to see, that in the worst of times, there is a seed remains. And it is further blessed to see, that the Lord knoweth and watcheth over them that are his. Psalms 22:30 ; 2 Timothy 2:19 ; Isaiah 27:3 .
Here is another solemn charge, and more pointed than the former. Errors are not only found in Ephraim, but in Judah; not only among the carnal, but the professor. Yea, God's ministers, both prophet and priest, are said to have erred through strong drink! Precious Jesus! is it possible that we can behold thee drinking the cup of trembling to the very dregs; and that any who minister before thee, and in thy name, can be found drinking the drunkard's cup? W ell might Isaiah cry out, and exclaim, Whom shall he teach knowledge? It should seem from the whole of this passage, that the people bantered at what was spoken, and turned it into laughter. Some have rendered the word, which we translate stammering lips, ridiculous lips; and this idea seems to render the thing probable. And if the priest and the prophet indeed erred through strong drink, it is more than probable, they became ridiculous in what they preached. Alas! alas! to what a state is our nature fallen!
This is a blessed verse, which comes in like some precious cordial to a dying man, who had been fainting before under afflictions all around. But, Reader! who is the person here spoken of, to whom he said? W ho is the He her e meant? I do not presume to determine, but, I venture to believe, that it is He who guided the prophet Isaiah's pen, even God the Holy Ghost. And who, and what, is the rest to whom the prophet was to direct the people; and at a time when their own prophets and priests, by their errors and drunkenness, could not teach knowledge? Who could this be, but thee, thou blessed Jesus, who in the days of thy flesh didst invite to come to thee, the weary and heavy laden, and they should find rest to their souls? Matthew 11:28-29 . Reader! do you know Jesus, under this character? Have you come to him, and found him indeed the refreshing? Oh! how blessed, under all the storms and disquietudes of life, to say, with one of old, Return unto thy rest, unto thy Jesus, my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee! Psalms 116:7 .
These are very awful verses, and enough to make the ears of everyone that heareth them to tingle. And what must the end be of scorners, mockers of God's word, and despisers of his threatenings?
I cannot begin to offer a single observation upon this most precious verse, before that I have first desired to bend the knee of my heart before the throne, to bless the Lord for it. And at the same time I would no less desire to adore the riches of his grace, in that the Lord God would not leave so blessed a portion to our conjecture, concerning whom it referred to, but by his servant the apostle Peter hath done it to our hands. Let the Reader therefore, when he hath again and again read what the prophet here saith, turn to the Epistle of Peter; 1 Peter 2:6-8 . Reader! think how gracious our God and Father is, thus to lay the foundation of his Church! think how firm, immoveable, blessed, and eternal, is Jesus Christ, the rock on which his Church is built? And oh how safe and secure must they be in their everlasting interests, who are built upon him, against which the gates of hell cannot prevail. Oh! precious, precious Jesus! whatever stone of stumbling, or rock of offence thou art to those that know thee not, be thou to me the rock of salvation; for blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in thee! Reader! think it not troublesome to turn to those several scriptures; Matthew 21:42 ; Psalms 118:22 ; Acts 4:11-12 ; Zechariah 3:9 ; Daniel 2:34-35 ; Romans 9:33 ; Ephesians 2:20-21 ; Romans 10:11 .
I have often thought, that among all the unpromising appearances of things around, when men sin with a high hand, in slighting and despising both God's judgments and God's mercies; the most unpromising are among those that mock at God's rich plan of redemption by Christ. There is somewhat so truly awful in this, as should seem to carry with it features of peculiar danger. Blessed be God, there are instances of the sovereignty of grace in the recovery of all characters in the vast catalogue of sin, so as that none should despair, while none presume. Nevertheless there is somewhat in the malignity of the mocker, which, like the sort of the bond-woman, peculiarly marks the hatred of the mind, and makes one very apprehensive of such being given up to a reprobate mind. How solemn is this last verse: Be ye not mockers, lest your bands be made strong!
The chapter ends very graciously, in showing the Church, under the similitude of the husbandman, how the Lord takes care of his household. And as Jesus hath sweetly set forth the same blessed truths, under the same imagery; we cannot be at a loss to apprehend the whole of the instruction. Ye are God's husbandry, said the apostle; and Jesus himself saith, I am the vine, ye are the branches. Oh! for grace to be thus favoured, and to know that we are brought into the vineyard, the Church of the Lord of hosts. Isa 5:7 ; 1 Corinthians 3:9 ; John 15:1 , etc.
READER! what a wonderful history doth the Church of God hold forth in all ages! Never was there a people so favoured as Israel! Never surely a nation so degenerate. In whatever period we look at the account, the contemplation is the same. Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? Was it ever known that any people under heaven, when once they had taken up with an idol, because they knew not the true God, ever put it down again for another? But, saith the Lord, my people Israel, to whom I have made myself known in blessing them; my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.
Reader! pause over this, and then behold what a wonderful God is our God! Are we, like Israel, prone to lay down anything, yea, nothing that is, or can, be durable and solid, for a foundation to build upon for eternity? Hear what the Lord saith; I will lay in Zion, for a foundation stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation! Blessed God and Father! precious Lord Jesus! holy eternal Spirit! cause our souls here to build, and on this rock to bottom all our hopes of heaven and happiness. Oh! for grace to try thee, thou blessed Jesus, as God the Father hath tried thee, and found thee faithful. Never, never; shall I be ashamed or confounded while I trust in thee, and rest upon thee, in life, and death, in time, and to all eternity!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Isaiah 28". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany