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The Prophet is here come to the close of his Prophetical writings, and a blessed close he makes. The Chapter seems to be but the continuation of the same subject as the former; full of consolation to God's people, and marking all their mercies in Christ.
Stephen, in his address to the Jewish Council, made a quotation from hence, and in direct application, to their characters. But what a very blessed and condescending way was this, of Jehovah's speaking! And what unheard of, unexplored, yea, unknown mercies, must be contained in the bosom of this astonishing declaration of the Lord! Though the heaven of heavens cannot contain him, yet will he condescend both to look to the man of a contrite heart, and even dwell in him. Paul the Apostle seems to have followed up his earnest address for the Church on this very ground, and perhaps from this authority, Ephesians 3:14 to the end.
I should apprehend that by the killing of an ox, here spoken of, is not simply meant the act of killing the beast, but with an eye to sacrifice. And if I do this in the idea of an offering, I do thereby set at nought the great sacrifice of the Lord Jesus; and this would be what the Apostle calls crucifying him afresh, and putting him to an open shame. There is an uncommon degree of expression in those words, as if he slew a man; meaning the man Christ Jesus. Whoever looks to sacrifices, since the sacrifice of the Lord
Jesus Christ, by way of acceptance, doth to all intents and purposes virtually declare that he fears Christ's sacrifice was not all-sufficient, and therefore he adds this by way of making up the deficiency. And such, by the way it may be observed, is, more or less, the danger of mingling anything of our own with the perfect offering body of Jesus Christ, which was offered once for all.
What a vast difference is found in the minds of men under the word! To some, how blessed; to others, how uninteresting! Reader! do not forget who it is that maketh men to differ, 1 Corinthians 4:7 .
Perhaps the voice here spoken of, means the voice of the gospel: and the effects of it follow. Quick was the success, when the Holy Ghost came upon them that heard the voice. Jehovah inquireth whether such things were ever heard of before? And the Apostle Paul asserts, that when the Lord thus works by his word, and in his word, souls shall be constrained to confess, that God was in that word of a truth; 1 Corinthians 14:25 .
All these are so many blessed promises, with which the Church was to be distinguished in gospel days, when the Lord had brought home his holy word with power to the heart. Ordinances were to become blessed; Jesus alone should be blessed, and her people in her; and so endeared should the people be to the Lord, that is, Jesus's tenderness over them should be like the tenderness of a mother! We do not find this image of the mother's tenderness frequently made use of in scripture; but when it is, the Lord makes it most gracious indeed. See Isaiah 49:15 .
The Lord is here speaking of his judgment upon sinners, who despise his ordinances, and corrupt and pollute them. Mingling ought with them they become a pollution; Exodus 20:25 .
The call of the Gentiles, the gathering of the Jews, the formation of a kingdom of priests and Kings the wonders to be accomplished in redemption, and the awful state of those who finally reject the gospel, seem to be the several outlines of the subjects, with which the Prophet folds up, and concludes his inspired scripture. The images of the worm that dieth not, and the fire not to be quenched, our Lord himself, three times in one Chapter, makes use of, when delivering his solemn truths, Mar_9:44; Mar_9:46; Mar_9:48 . And very evident it is, from the declarations of both the Master and his servant, that an awful termination must, and will follow the rejection of such great salvation, while mercy, peace, and grace, will be to them who come, from one new moon to another, to worship the Lord in beauty of holiness, and are found in Christ to the praise of the glory, of his grace, who hath made his people accepted in the beloved, Ephesians 1:6 .
READER! let us pause over the close of Isaiah's prophecy, and observe with the humblest reverence and godly fear, how the Prophet in folding up his ministry, calls the Church in this last Chapter, once more, finally and fully, to the contemplation of Jehovah. With what a solemn close; Thus saith the Lord. As if, with an indelible seal, the whole was to be left upon the minds of the people. As if the Prophet had given in his commission, with reminding them, that what he had delivered, was all in the name, and by the authority: of Him that was, and that is, and that is to come! And observe how he speaks of his distinguishing character: The heaven is his throne, and the earth is his footstool. God's throne is indeed everywhere, but in an eminent special manifestation of himself, as the Prophet was commissioned to set forth. His throne is in the person of Christ. It is there that he promiseth to come and meet and bless his people. Christ is, and was the mercy-seat; and in him, and from him, he communeth with the man that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, His dwelling is in Christ; his ordinances are in him; the whole of his mercy, grace, goodness, love, as displayed to poor fallen man, are all in him. And therefore to slight Jesus is to slight God in Christ; to kill an ox in sacrifice, is as if the sinner crucified the Son of God afresh, because he thereby intimates as if the one offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all, had not forever perfected them that are sanctified. Pause, Reader, over the solemn view, and let us learn to bless God, more and more for his unspeakable gift!
And oh! thou blessed, eternal, glorious Jehovah! give us grace to hail thee, in thy threefold character of person, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and give us grace to accept all thy gracious purposes of salvation, thus brought home and unfolded to us, in and by Jesus Christ. Truly, Lord, we may, and do cry out, in the words of this scripture, who hath heard such a thing? Who hath seen such things? Shall the earth bring forth in one day? But, in truth and indeed, Lord, in that one memorable day of Jesus's incarnation, a nation was born in him at once; and therefore shall not every poor sinner, in his new birth in Christ, say, Oh! Lord! thou hast indeed brought to the birth, and caused to bring forth. Thou hast caused to bring forth, and not shut the womb, oh our God! we will therefore rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her in her glorious King; and we will in him, and his name, milk out the breasts of her consolations, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory!
Farewell, Isaiah! farewell, thou servant of the most high God while we bless thy Lord and Master, because he hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servants, we would love thee, as the instrument of so much good to his Church and people, as it hath pleased the Lord, by thy preaching and writings, to accomplish; and in thine own words, we would say, How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth, good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! Thou art entered into his rest. Thou hast found, according to thine own prophecy, that Jesus is the rest, wherewith he causeth the weary to rest, and this is the refreshing. And He that gave thee, and the Patriarchs and Prophets, faith to live and die in the full enjoyment of faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar of, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them: will give us grace and faith now to be the patient followers of them, who through faith and patience now inherit the promises!
Oh! thou to whom give all the Prophets witness! Do thou, blessed Lord Jesus, give witness by thy Holy Spirit in our hearts, to their word; that seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, we may lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and that we may run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto thee, the Author and finisher of our faith! Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Isaiah 66". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany