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The subject of this Chapter is very different from that of the preceding: it consists of threatenings, mingled with promises; cautions to the watchmen of Israel, and an awful account of unfaithful shepherds.
It is blessed to observe with what solemnity and authority the Lord introduceth his declarations. The Lord is speaking of his salvation by Jesus Christ, and intimates the nearness of his coming; in the prospect of which he enjoins the faithful to be on the lookout for it, and pronounceth a blessedness on everyone found in it, and who layeth hold upon it. I conceive that Jesus himself is here peculiarly referred to; and consequently, in him, the blessing reacheth to all his people.
The sorrow of Israel was great, if any family or tribe went childless; Jeremiah 22:30 . And the reason, over and above the common affliction of barrenness in a house, was, because the prospect Israel looked to, of Christ coming out of that family, was thereby defeated. Moreover, by the law, any one that had a blemish was deprived of the honour of the priesthood, and admittance into the congregation of the Lord; Leviticus 21:17 . But what a rich consolation did the Lord hold out in this scripture, in the view of the covenant, in and by Christ, of adoption into his family. What a fulness of all relations in one, is found in Jesus! He fills all, and supplies all, and makes up the want of all. And as Elkanah said to Hannah, how much more may we hear Christ speaking; Am not I better to thee than ten sons? 1 Samuel 1:8 . Oh! for grace to have an union and interest in that everlasting name of Christ, by which his people are called, Acts 11:26 .
This is a repetition of the same promise, varying only in expression, under the gospel dispensation. Aliens and strangers shall be as fully instituted into the privileges of the Church, as the stock of Israel. All their offerings shall be accepted upon the New Testament altar, which is Christ, and in him, and for his sake, shall they be blessed; Malachi 1:11 ; Galatians 3:26-29 .
This, is a blessed verse, and full of blessings to the poor Gentile Church. Reader! Well may we of the Gentile Church prize it. The Lord Jesus sweetly explained this, John 10:16 ; and Paul hath described to what a wonderful extent this gathering shall be, Ephesians 1:10 .
Who, or what are meant by beasts of the field, and dumb dogs, may not be so easy to determine; but we cannot be at a loss to apprehend the meaning of the word watchmen. The passage is very awful, and closeth in a very awful manner. Those who minister in holy things, may well ponder over such a striking scripture, connected as it is with the characters here spoken of. The beloved Apostle hath marked their end, Revelation 22:15 . Reader! let us turn our thoughts from the distressing view of unfaithful watchmen, to behold Him who is the true shepherd and watchman of his Church; he watches over it every moment; he keepeth it night and day, lest any hurt it; Isaiah 27:3 . Precious keeper of Israel! do thou watch over me for good, and keep me by thine almighty power, through faith, unto salvation; 1 Peter 1:5 ; Psalms 121:4-5 .
BLESSED God! how truly refreshing to the soul of a poor dry barren believer, is the recollection of that covenant, which is everlasting and sure, and ordered in all things! What, though I have nothing; though I am nothing; yea, though I am worse than nothing; yet, convinced of an interest in this, I have riches, yea, durable riches, and righteousness, and a name better than sons and daughters. Children are uncertain comforts, and sure cares: but Jesus is a sure and abiding comfort, in which every promise is yea and Amen.
Grant, gracious Lord, that I may be among the gathered to Christ Jesus, that on that day, when he maketh up his jewels, I may be found among the number whom Jesus will own! And, Lord, keep me, keep thy Church, keep all thy redeemed, from unfaithful watch men and shepherds. But do thou, in compassion to thy fold, give them pastors after thine own heart, who may feed them with true understanding and knowledge; and direct their souls to thee, that they may go in and out, and find pasture.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Isaiah 56". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17