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This Chapter is a continuation of the former, in which the Lord comforteth the church with assurances of salvation. An allusion is made to Babylon, but still with reference to the rich purposes of grace in Christ.
If we connect this verse, and indeed the whole opening of the chapter, with what went before, (and certainly, though we divide into chapters, the original preaching or delivery of the prophecy was not so) how surprising is it, to behold the Lord's ways with his people. The last chapter ended as if the Lord and Israel had parted in anger; but here God begins in grace and mercy, as though nothing had happened. Reader, do not fail to observe how all tenders of reconciliation begin on the part of God. Though the Lord gave Jacob to the spoiler, and Israel to the robbers, yet the Lord will be gracious again.
Mark well the causes of the divine love; Jacob and Israel are the objects of God's care, from every consideration: Jehovah created them, and hath newly created them in Christ; he hath redeemed them also, and he hath called them. He is their God in covenant; and so dear are they to him, that he hath given all nations for them, They are the gift of his love, the purchase of Christ's blood, the subjects of his grace; and therefore they are, and must be most precious in his sight: so that all the elements of nature, so far from proving noxious to them, shall be made to minister to his glory, in their welfare. Reader, think of these precious things; and if thou canst find in thine experience testimonies of redemption by Christ, ask thine heart, what can be wanting to endear a poor sinner to the Lord, whose precious blood must be infinitely more costly and valuable than all the riches of Ethiopia and Egypt.
What a blessed provision do we find in these divine promises, for the recovery of God's ancient people, the Jews! Neither the north nor the south shall be able to detain the seed of Jesus, when the hour of their deliverance shall come. There is a set time to favor Zion; and, as in grace, so in glory, the Lord will finally call home his people, from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth, to the uttermost part of heaven; Isaiah 59:20 ; Matthew 24:31 . I pray the Reader not to overlook the cause of all, in the person of the Lord Jesus, evidently and plainly spoken of, in the last of these verses. He it is, as Jehovah's servant, and to whom, for the purpose of redemption, a body was given, that is the sum and substance of all that is here said; Psalms 40:6-7 .
Some have supposed this to be a challenge to the worshippers of idols; but I humbly conceive, that as these verses follow the account of Him, of whom Jehovah speaketh so gloriously, it is rather a demand, in reference to gospel days, to bring forth the blind and the deaf, spiritually considered, to whom the Lord Jesus would give the restoration of their faculties, in virtue of his great redemption; and as the heathen world are called in to behold the testimony, is not this a plain allusion to the conversion of the Gentiles? Isaiah 49:6 .
How truly blessed are these verses in relation to the witnesses of Jehovah! The people saved by the Lord are his witnesses, his prophets are his witnesses, and yet, above all, the Lord Christ, as Jehovah's servant, is his witness. So Jehovah declared him to be, when he said, I have given him for a witness to the people, Isaiah 55:4 . Reader, what saith your experience to these divine truths? Are you the Lord's witness, that he hath brought you out of darkness into his marvellous light? And, on the other hand, while you witness for the Lord, doth the Holy Ghost witness with your spirit, that you are a child of God? Romans 8:16 . Oh, it is blessed and precious indeed, when we can and do set to our seals that God is true, since none but a self-existing and al mighty God, in covenant in Christ, could save the soul of a poor sinner!
The title which, upon this occasion, the Lord takes to himself, is most gracious: for as the Church was about to be led into Babylon, nothing could more tend to keep up the spirits of the people during their captivity, than the recollection that still Jehovah was their Redeemer! And, Reader, is not the same view always precious to a child of God, when the enemy seems to triumph with a high hand? Isaiah 59:19 .
It is worth observing how often, under the Old Testament dispensation, the Lord reminds the Church of that wonderful deliverance which he wrought in Egypt, and at the Red Sea, by way of teaching the people, in the review of past mercies, to be looking for renewed manifestations; Micah 6:4-5 .
The last of these verses gives a full answer to the inquiry, wherefore the Lord so favoured Israel? All is for the divine glory; and all that glory is in Christ; Ephesians 1:10 ; Revelation 4:11 . Oh, how truly blessed, to behold all glory given to our glorious Head, Christ Jesus, that all may terminate in Jehovah's glory, and open a source of never ceasing praise to the Father, Son, and Spirit, in and through the Mediator, Christ Jesus! John 17:1 .
Reader, do not fail to overlook the very great tenderness of this expostulation, which the Lord makes with his people. What did the Lord look for, and expect in his people? Evidently, from what is here said, the Lord was jealous of their not calling upon him: Jacob, father of the Israelites; was remarkable for keeping up acquaintance, by prayer and communion with the Lord. And the Lord had never said to the praying seed of Jacob, Seek ye my face, in vain. But it seems the children did not turn after their father; they neglected to come to the mercy-seat; they grew shy of the Lord; they brought not the tokens of love in sacrifices and offerings. Reader, doth not the blush of shame tinge our faces, while hearing God's charge against Israel for this neglect, under a consciousness that we are equally guilty? Precious Jesus, how truly humbled do I feel my soul in the very moment that I read of Israel's inattention, under a deep sense of my own! Is it possible that so much love in Jesus can be requited with so much indifference? Yes! for I feel it, and groan under it; Romans 7:24-25 .
What a verse of mercy, grace, and goodness is here! One might justly have been led to expect, after what the Lord had said in the preceding paragraph, that for such baseness and ingratitude, punishment and correction would have followed. But God's ways are not our ways; nor our thoughts his thoughts: truly, as the apostle hath said, where sin aboundeth, grace doth much more abound, Romans 5:20 ; and all the ways of grace are of this kind, and constrain every soul that is made a rich partaker of it, to cry out, with the Prophet, who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? Micah 7:18-19 .
The Lord still dwells upon the subject of his grace, and Israel's unworthiness, by way of pointing out his long-suffering, and the necessity of their soul exercises. And, Reader, in this charge, you and I may, equally with Israel, plead guilty. In all ages of the Church, it will be found the same. It is our rebellion which brings upon us the necessary chastisements of a kind Father. Both in original, and actual transgression, we have all sinned and come short of God's glory!
LISTEN, my soul, to what the Lord speaks, in this most blessed and precious chapter, to Jesus, as the Head of his church, and to his redeemed in him. Read first, the promises, everyone of them, as made to the Person of thy great Surety and Saviour; and then, from thy union and interest in him, take them all, in Jesus, and with Jesus, for thy portion. Say, my soul, hath not the Lord created thee, and formed thee; not only in the original creation of nature, but in the new creation by grace? Hath not the Lord called thee, redeemed thee, and declared thee to be his own, both by the purchase of his blood and the conquests of his grace? And is it not true that while the Lord saith, This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise; thou art earnestly longing to praise and glorify him for all the tokens of his distinguishing grace? Take then the comfort of in these sweet promises, and let neither fiery flames nor stormy seas, in the most tribulated path yet remaining for thee to go through, distress; for Jesus (he saith it himself) is with thee, and will conduct thee, and carry thee safely through them all. Oh! thou gracious Lord of all my mercies; thou Holy One of Israel, my Saviour!
But, my soul, pause over the blessed view which this chapter opens to thy contemplation, of the price thy Jesus gave for his Church in redemption. He saith, it was Egypt for her ransom, and Ethiopia and Seba. Yes, thou bleeding Lamb of God! thou didst indeed make a dear, dear purchase of thy Church, and didst buy her, out of the hands of infinite justice with a sum perfectly incalculable. All the riches and treasures of Egypt, and all the pearls and gold of Ethiopia and Seba, sink to nothing, in comparison of the infinite, and never-to-be-fully compensated in value, blood of Christ. Oh! how precious must have been thy Church in thy sight, thou dear Redeemer, when neither
Jesus stopped short in giving himself for her, nor God the Father kept back the Son, the only Son of his bosom, for her redemption? My soul, never lose sight of this; but, in the blessedness of the contemplation, continually say with the apostle, He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all; how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
Be humbled to the dust, my soul, while, in the view of such divine goodness thou callest to mind thine own undeservings. Oh, thou kind, thou tender, thou compassionate Lord Jesus! Have I caused thee to serve with my sins, and wearied thee with mine iniquities? Do I remit my visits to a throne of grace, and seldom go there unless necessities constrain me? Is it so, my honoured Lord, that there is a backwardness in my very nature to the love of thee, and the desire after thy company? Lord! how is it, that I am every day condemning what I every day again trespass in; and find occasion still to mourn over, what still again marks my conduct? Oh, precious Jesus! undertake for me; and deliver me, Lord, in thine own time, which is the best time, from the body of sin and death, into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. Jesus will make me free, and I shall be free indeed! Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Isaiah 43". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Sixth Week after Easter