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The subject of this chapter is the destruction of Babylon. But the, Prophet, looking into gospel times, hath in view a much greater ruin than that of the Chaldean empire; even the universal ruin of Satan's kingdom, which, in scripture language, is called Babylon, The pride, cruelty, and enchantment, here spoken of, are all typical of the great apostate spirit's behaviour towards the Church of God.
If we read these verses with an eye to the history of Babylon, as a people, we shall find, that the threatenings here denounced were all literally fulfilled: Babylon, which had conquered all nations, was herself at length conquered. But we shall lose the whole beauty of the scripture, if our principal attention be not directed to the spiritual sense of what the Lord here delivers, by his servant the Prophet. For the sins of his people, the Lord was pleased to raise up this scourge for them in Babylon, and caused them to be led into captivity. The Lord doth so now. When his people break his laws, and keep not his commandments, it forms a part in the covenant, to visit their offences with the rod, and their sins with scourges. Nevertheless, they are his people still. Though in themselves rebellious, yet in Jesus, their glorious head, they are accepted. Hence the Lord will correct them; but when the correction is over, he will cast the rod away. Their enemies shall be accounted with: and in this account, Jehovah, their friend, meets their opposers, not merely with the strength and power of a man, but with that of God. Oh! how fearful the judgment to the enemies of God, and of his Christ! Oh! how blessed to the people of God, to have God for their friend!
Here is a beautiful break of the subject, in the Lord's address, to Babylon. The Church, as it were, hearing what the Lord had just before said, in his threatened judgments upon Babylon, breaks out in a devout exclamation concerning her Lord. She calls him by his name Goel, Redeemer; and saith of him, that he is the Lord of sovereignty; and, in his holiness, the Lord of righteousness to his people. Sweet views of Jesus! His Godhead secures the everlasting and eternal efficacy of his redemption; and in his mediatorial holiness, all his people are interested. The Lord of Hosts, and the Holy One of Israel, become a suitable kinsman Redeemer, for the Church eternally to trust in, and to glory in.
The subject is again resumed at this verse, and, under the image of Babylon, the silence and darkness, in which the enemies of God and of his Christ shall be finally shut up, are set forth.
I pray the Reader to remark, with me, how graciously the Lord speaks, even when describing the degeneracy of his people. Though they had rebelled, and though the Lord was wroth with them, yet he calls them still his people. Precious thought! The Apostle Paul makes a blessed observation upon it, Romans 11:1-2 ; and the Prophet Isaiah hath another, which, shows the Lord's care over his people, even when in their captive state; for though outcasts, yet were they still the Lord's outcasts; Isaiah 16:4 .
I include the whole of these verses in one reading, because the one great subject is the same. The enemies of God and of his Church carry with them a general feature, namely, everything of hatred, and malignity to Christ and his Gospel. From the first forming of the Church, in Egypt, to the present hour, there is but one and the same plan manifested, and the reason is plain: the Devil's hatred to Christ and his seed is personal; so that, whatever else may mark the characters of men, the war is on this ground, universal and unceasing. It commenced at the fall, runs through all time, and will not cease as long as the world remains. I stay not to particularize the several relations, here given, of Babylon's sin and folly: the pride, and self-sufficiency against God; the confidence of never being moved; the use of enchantments and sorceries, are all so many of the characters, which in all ages mark the enemies of Jesus and his salvation. The Reader will do well, while reading this chapter, to keep in remembrance its spiritual sense; and it will much promote his improvement and apprehension of what is here said by the Prophet, if he will read with it, and compare, what the Apostle was commissioned to deliver to the Church concerning mystical Babylon, in the close of the canon of Scripture. Those portions mutually serve to illustrate each other. See Revelation 17:0 ; Revelation 18:0 and Revelation 19:0 to the end of verse 9.
ONE of the most comprehensive improvements to be made at the close of this chapter, in the view of the very different termination set forth to the people of God, and to his enemies, may be summed up in the words of our Prophet: Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: woe unto the wicked, it shall be ill with him!
Reader! take a short view of both. Behold, in the representation of Babylon, the delicacy, splendour, pomp, and pleasure in which she rioted for a while: but behold, again, in a moment, in one day, what ruin followed! Such, but in an infinitely greater degree, is the state of all the enemies of God and of his Christ. As Jesus told some in his days, so in every age the same are discoverable: Ye are of your father the devil, and the work of your father ye will do. For the wretched wages of carnal honour, how unweariedly do they drudge in his service, wear his livery, speak his language, and promote the interests of his kingdom! And what can the end be but Death? My soul: come not thou into their secret: unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united!
Behold the people of God! How often harassed and oppressed by their foes! And when, by sin and rebellion, their Babylonish enemies bring them into subjection, how heavily do they sometimes groan, being burthened: who shall speak of their inward conflicts with sin and Satan, and an unbelieving heart? Who shall describe their outward fears? In all their pilgrimage state, what exercises do they experience from the many ups and downs through which they pass! Nevertheless, the Lord is still bringing them on, and bringing them through, and will at length make them more than conquerors, through his grace helping them. Reader! be it your portion and mine, to see that we are of this household of faith for then we shall go from strength to strength, amidst all the Babylonian conflicts of our warfare, till we come to appear before our God, our Jesus, in his Zion!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Isaiah 47". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Epiphany