The subject appears to be continued through this chapter, which engaged the prophet's attention in the former. The people are reproved their transgressions, and the consequent displeasure of the Lord spoken of.
The prophet opens this chapter by pointing to the consequence of sin. The bread and the water, the common supplies of life, shall be taken from the people: and what tends to aggravate this distress is that the hand of the Lord is seen in it: and they shall know that it is the Lord's punishment. There is somewhat truly awful in this! Afflictions of every kind to our poor fallen nature, come heavy; but if they come with a special commission from the Lord, that the Lord hath sent them; they have a tenfold bitterness in them. I beg the Reader to mark with me, the special feeling, in this verse. The first name of the Lord is in small letters, signifying the Adonai, one of the well-known names of Christ, in his office-characters, as Mediator; the stay and support of his redeemed. The second name of the Lord is in capital letters, the well-known incommunicable name of Jehovah. Blessed Jesus! how delightful is the consideration, under all the transgressions of thy people, that the bread of life, and the water of life are not taken away. Reader, I charge it upon your heart and my own, ever to keep in remembrance, that Christ, our Father's first and best gift, is never taken away. Jesus is given to the church, to have and to hold forever. Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.
The prophet plainly shows by these verses, that the sin is universal. All ranks and all orders of the people are involved in the same sin, and consequently the same punishment. It is a melancholy state of the church, in all ages, when sin like a disease, runs through all: and it may be said, Like priest like people. In such a state, men will look to anything, yea to nothing, for countenance; and having forsaken the Rock of ages, would take confidence in the reeds of Egypt. Blessed Jesus! give me to see, in the darkest hour, that thou alone canst be a defense for thy people.
How sweet and precious doth the former of these verses come in, after the preceding relation! And how bitter and alarming the latter! Reader, depend upon it, such will be the striking distinction in that day which shall come, and which shall burn as an oven, Malachi 4:1-2. Both in public and private visitations, the people of God are secure. It must be well with the justified soul in Christ. So Paul hath said under the Holy Ghost, and so the Lord's people know. Romans 8:33-34; Malachi 3:17-18.
Reader! do not fail to observe, both indeed in this place, and through the word of God at large, that amidst all the backslidings of Israel, the Lord still keeps up the remembrance of their relationship. The name is not lost; As for MY people, saith the Lord. And how doth the Lord expostulate with their enemies that cause them to stray: what mean ye, that ye beat my people? Precious Lord Jesus! and dost thou not plead with all our enemies in this way? And wilt thou not punish and confound them for the deliverance of thy people? That is a sweet scripture to this amount. Proverbs 22:23.
What a sad portrait is here drawn by the prophet, of the daughters of Zion. Alas! how unsuitable to Zion's daughters, who are supposed to be women professing godliness. Reader! is not the present day very similar to what is here said, of wantonness of conduct, and looseness of dress, among our women? Tell it not in Gath! Indeed, indeed, it is a sad reproach. How ought parents, in religious families, to restrain everything in their children, which hath a tendency to inflame the passions, and corrupt the heart. But let me throw a veil over the subject. I would recommend the apostle's sweet advice on this point to our females, 1 Peter 3:1-4.
The chapter ends, as it began, and as one might reasonably suppose would be the close; if sin reigns, sorrow must follow: for the wages of sin is death. Blessed be God, who hath taken occasion, from the misery of our nature, to magnify the riches of his grace, and where sin hath abounded that grace should much more abound; that as sin hath reigned unto death, so might grace reign through righteousness, unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord, Romans 5:20-21.
READER, while these humbling views of Israel's transgressions are before us, let us bring home the affecting subject to our own hearts, and we shall find cause to cry out with the apostle: Are we better than they? No! in no wise; for the scripture hath concluded all under sin. We all partake in one common fallen nature, which in no instance, either in Jew or Gentile is free from sin. Reader, it is profitable at the reading of every chapter, and upon every renewed view of the subject, to have this in remembrance. May God the Holy Ghost, give us both to see and to know, and to have grace to make such improving reflections upon all we read concerning sin, that our own hearts may be affected in the consciousness of our own transgressions, while reading of the transgressions of others, and in the general punishment, when the Lord of Hosts doth at any time take away the stay and the staff; our bread and our water; not of the necessaries of life only, in the bread that perisheth in using, but of the spiritual life, without which, we perish forever: may we hear the rod; and who hath appointed it! Blessed Lord! let all thy chastisements be sanctified, and lead our hearts to thee, and not from thee; for thou art the Lord our God, amidst all our rebellions and all our backslidings.
And, Lord, in all thy dispensations, such as this chapter sets forth to thine Israel, still manifest thyself to us, as thou didst to them, that thou art the God of Israel, and hatest putting away. And though the departure from our God is general, in which the mighty man and the man of war, the child, and the ancient, are all alike involved in the transgression; and though the brother of the house of our Father after nature, cannot heal, neither clothe, nor be our ruler; yet, precious Jesus, thou art a brother born for adversity: therefore be thou, our ruler, and let all our ruin be brought under thy hand, and we shall be saved.
And will the Lord give grace to the daughters of Zion of the present hour, that while reading, in the conduct of those of the ancient house of Israel, the immodest conduct which became so offensive in the eyes of the Lord, they may have grace to make use of an apparel, suited to the humble followers of the blessed Jesus. Lord! give everyone among those, who name the name of Jesus, to study a modesty of dress suited to the Christian profession, and may they be adorned as the King's daughter, all glorious within. Oh Lord! do thou clothe our souls with thy robe of righteousness, and we shall be then but little concerned how our sinful bodies are adorned: but having, food and raiment, be content. Lord, do thou enable us all to put off the old man, which is corrupt, according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of our mind: And do thou put on us the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Isaiah 3". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany