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As the foregoing Chapter treated particularly of Babylon, so this hath a peculiar respect to the house of Israel. The Lord, in opening to the house of Jacob a view of their sins, plainly and fully shows, that all the blessings bestowed upon Israel were the pure result of grace.
The Lord opens the Chapter with a call upon his people: He graciously sets forth in what light they stood among the nations. In profession, they were indeed his people, and from the covenant relationship in which they stood to God, they denominated him as their Lord, and themselves as the holy city. But, in the midst of this high profession, and these distinguishing advantages, their hearts were not right with him, they had a name to live, but were virtually dead before God. Reader! think how prone, in all ages, the people of God have been to depart from him. Do you not, in the present hour, feel what Paul felt, and groan as he did? Romans 7:15 , etc.
Reader! mark, I beseech you, what a gracious expostulation of the Lord is contained in these verses. The Lord retraces the subject from the beginning. He gives his people to see what they were, and what he is. He takes them by the hand, as it should seem, and leads them into retirement, to consider how gracious he hath been, and how unworthy they have proved. And in the close of this expostulation, that they might behold how magnified his grace had been, he gives them to understand that there was nothing in all this ungrateful conduct of theirs which surprised him: for from the womb he knew how very treacherously they would be found. Reader! remark, that of all the views to overwhelm the soul in the contemplation of sovereign grace and mercy, this seems the highest and the best: for it comes with the fullest tide. When the Lord gives grace, in direct opposition, as it were, to our undeservings and where sin aboundeth, that there grace should much more abound; what shall we call this? And was not the Lord Jesus so given? Did our nature, universally speaking, desire a Saviour? Did we ask the blessing? Did we know we needed this unspeakable mercy? Yea, did we not, everyone of us in heart and practice, if not in words, say, we will not have this man to reign over us? Reader! bring the subject home yet a little nearer, and make it personal: How were you engaged, when Jesus passed by and bid you live? Were you not in pursuit of things temporal, making, as the Apostle speaks, provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. Nay, since the Lord called you by his grace, how have you manifested your sense of his grace, and your obedience? Had the Lord treated you, as you have treated him, where, even now, would have been your portion? Hath Jesus continued his love amidst all your undeservings; and still continues it; yea, doth he say to thee, as to Israel, in this expostulating scripture, I knew that thou wouldest deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb? Surely, under such views, if any where, the soul will bow down to the very dust of the earth, in admiring and adoring the riches of grace, which takes occasion from human misery, to display divine mercy, and to constrain every child of God to exclaim, with the Prophet, who is a God like unto thee? Micah 7:18-20 .
Reader! as in the former paragraph I called upon you to mark the graciousness of God's expostulation with his people; so here I pray you to observe, how the whole of sovereign grace and love is by the Lord himself traced up to its source: Never, never forget that it is for Jehovah's glorious name's sake, that the whole creation-work and redemption-work, hath been, and is, and will be accomplished, even to all eternity. The song of heaven sets this forth most fully: and the experience of the redeemed on earth is made to correspond as fully to the same. If God pardons sin, receives the sinner, and passeth by their iniquities, the reason is assigned: Be it known to you, O house of Israel, that I do this not for your sakes, but for my great name's sake. Revelation 4:9-11 ; Ezekiel 36:21-22 . If the reader would see two remarkable instances wherein the servants of the Lord availed themselves of this distinguishing character of Jehovah, to plead for pardon and forgiveness, and prevailed, I would refer him to Exodus 32:9-14 , and Joshua 6:6-9 .
Reader! observe what grace is, again and again displayed in every verse, as we prosecute this sweet Chapter. Though the Lord began by pointing out Israel's rebellion, and this was followed up with expostulation, yet when the Lord comes to speak of himself and his covenant relationship to his people, the cloud seems at once removed, and the brightness of his countenance comes forth in shining lustre and when taking to himself his great name, the glorious I AM, the First and the Last, and therefore giving being to all his promises, he bids Israel to hearken: Israel was his called, his chosen. How sweet, how very sweet, are such views of the unchangeableness of him and his purposes and promises in Christ, when the soul can discover an interest in the whole from an union and interest in Jesus! Revelation 22:13 .
Though the whole passage is but a continuation of the same blessed discourse, in which God himself is the speaker; yet I stop the Reader under these two verses, to remark the peculiarity of what is said. If Jesus, under the spirit of prophecy, be here delivering these gracious truths to the Church, (as I think cannot be questioned) then will it follow, that all the three persons of the Godhead are here introduced as engaged in this blessed sermon. Jesus opened his gospel, and spoke not in secret, but openly to the people: so he received his commission, Isaiah 6:8-10 ; and so, in the synagogue, he declared the Spirit of Jehovah to be upon him; compare Isaiah 61:1 , etc. with Luke 4:18 , etc. And if Jehovah and his Spirit (as in those verses is said to have been the case) be thus sent, who will not see, as in the baptism of Jesus, all the three persons of the Godhead engaged in this act of grace, Matthew 3:16-17 .
How gracious the preface to all these sweet promises; and how sure they become, in the name of the great Promiser! Reader! let it be our earnest study and delight to come under the teaching of this almighty Lord, whose instructions are sure to profit us. He teacheth not as man teacheth: he teacheth powerfully, for his word comes with power: his teachings are infallible, for HE, the Spirit of truth, guideth into all truth; and what he teacheth will abide with his people forever. I shall never, said David, forget thy word; for by it thou hast quickened me; Psalms 119:93 . But amidst all these blessed promises to the Lord's people, how solemn is the termination of the Chapter to the ungodly! There is, there can be no peace but in Jesus; and the unawakened, the graceless, and the ungodly, rejecting the counsel of God against their own souls, and despising the blood of the cross for salvation, can find it in no other; Acts 4:12 .
READER! stand still, and see the salvation of God! Behold, as this Chapter most blessedly sets forth, from whom that salvation comes; by whom it is accomplished; in whom it is alone found; and to whom the whole glory results. The song of heaven, and the hymn of the church upon earth, are both tuned upon the same note: To Jesus the praise is given, for he was slain, and hath redeemed us to God by his blood.
But oh! amidst this pleasing assurance, how painful is the thought that neither the consciousness of grace freely given, in all that is past: nor the continuance of grace in all that is present: nor all the hopes and expectations of grace for all that is to come; are found sufficient in their persuasive pleadings, to keep alive in the soul, obedience and the dedication of the heart to the Lord. Thou knowest, Lord, that transgressors thy children would be from the womb; but this did not stop thy bowels of love from yearning over us in our lost estate. Precious Jesus! be thou to us still Jesus. Lord, teach us to profit; lead us by the way we should go: and grant that, amidst all our unworthiness, thy grace may never depart from us: but keep us by thine almighty power through faith unto salvation. And while to the wicked there is no peace; give us that peace, in thee and thy righteousness, keeping the heart and mind in Jesus Christ Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Isaiah 48". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30