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The prophet is in this chapter opening a subject, concerning the future troubles of Israel and Judah, by reason of their sins, and in a spirit of prophecy pointing out the destruction of both kingdoms, which should be accomplished. But the loving-kindness and grace of God mingles great promises of mercy, in the midst of judgment; and all in allusion to Christ.
The prophet is commanded to commit to writing what he had to deliver. We have reason to bless God for this appointment, by which scripture records have been handed down to us. We find several prophets speaking of it, Jeremiah 36:28; Jeremiah 36:28 ; Hosea 8:12 ; and he that seems to have represented the Prince of the prophets, is said to have had a writer's inkhorn by his side, to mark his people, Ezekiel 9:2 . Precious Jesus! may it be found, that thou hast written my name in thy book of life; Luke 10:20 . No doubt, this scripture record of Isaiah was very weighty; for the Lord gave a name to it, and commanded the prophet to call his son by the same name, Maher-shalalhash-baz; which in the nearest sense of the words signifies, a making speed to the spoil; like one that hastens to lay hold of his prey in battle. And thus doubled as it were to the prophet's mind, Isaiah was taught himself the certainty that the Lord would accomplish what he had pronounced. His child should never be named without bringing with him a fresh memorandum. Concerning those witnesses he took with him, to record what he had written at the Lord's command in the roll, the Prophet calls them faithful witnesses; by which presume he meant, men in office, who could not afterwards depart from what they had subscribed their hands to; for one of those men, Uriah the priest, as we read 2 Kings 16:10-16 , proved very unfaithful to the Lord, in setting up an altar after the pattern of the idolatrous altar which Ahaz brought from Damascus. But probably this act of Uriah was after this prophecy of Isaiah. The same scripture gives an account of the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy, 2 Kings 16:9 .
In these verses the prophet is led to speak of great things, reaching far and near. Under the figure of waters and rivers, kingdoms and empires are represented. The waters of Shiloah which are said to go softly, mean the Lord's tender dealings with his people; but sinners are looking to an arm of flesh; great names among men, like Rezin and Remaliah's son, are what they are seeking after. Hence, saith the Lord, by those very persons shall Judah's punishment come. And this was fulfilled, when, as we read in the writings of this same prophet Isaiah 36:0 ; Isaiah 37:0 . Sennacherib besieged Judah. See the corresponding history, 2 Kings 18:0 & 2 Kings 19:0 . But what I more particularly beg the Reader to remark with me, is, that part of this scripture, which hath a reference to Christ. The prophet keeping his eye, as it were, upon the map of the Holy Land, where the Lord Jesus, in after-ages, should set up his standard, beholds, in the mean time, the ravages of the Assyrian army, which the Lord would permit to come up over it, for the punishment of his people; and rapt into future times, he beholds, with the eye of faith, the glorious events to be accomplished by Jesus, and cries out, "The enemy will pass through Judah; yea, he shall fill thy land, O Immanuel!" Reader! pause over this sweet scripture, for it is most sweet; conceive how full of Christ's glory, must have been Isaiah's mind! He knew that this was the very sacred spot of the whole earth, where, in the fulness of time, Jesus would be born, and accomplish salvation by his blood and righteousness. And therefore, while under the full influence of the spirit of prophecy, he saw, and was delivering to the then church, the prediction of the ruin and overthrow the enemies of Judah and Israel would accomplish, by the Lord's appointment, as the punishment of their sins; yet the Prophet's mind, looking beyond those times, to the days of Christ, breaks out in the midst with an address to Jesus; it is as if he had said; "So great, so overwhelming will be the Lord's judgments, by the hands of enemies, over his own beloved land and people, that I see thy Zion, O Immanuel, thy beloved Jerusalem, cove red over even to the neck, by the stretching of his wings!" Reader! look at the subject also in a spiritual sense; and behold how the whole nature of man, a s well as his land, hath been overrun by the great enemy of souls, ; and then think of the mercies wrought by our Immanuel, in having bound the strong man armed, even Satan, when subduing our nature, and bringing forth our souls from his captivity! Luke 11:21-22 .
Here are blessed encouragements given to God's people, in the midst of impending judgments. It is as if the prophet had said; "The Lord's punishment of Judah, as a nation, is inevitable; it shall come; all attempts to alter his purpose, will be vain. Look therefore neither to young nor old, to counsel nor strength, for all will fail; but repose in the Lord. God is with us: He whose name is Immanuel, will come in due time. And in the mean season, as he is to be born of a virgin, and from among his people; the holy seed, shall be the substance thereof, " Isaiah 6:13 . Reader! let you and I always take comfort, in the worst of times; and under the darkest dispensations, in the recollection of this. If Jesus be with us, there is a blessing in it, though our state be as the withered grape, Isaiah 65:8 . Say, as the wife of Manoah: If the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not have accepted Christ at our hands; Judges 13:23 . Precious Lord Jesus! it is thou that art the hope of Israel, and the Saviour thereof, Jeremiah 14:8 .
I pray the Reader to observe with me, the tender care of God over his people, in times of general calamity. In these verses, the Prophet is commissioned to comfort the Lord's mourners; and a precious word of comfort he gives. The Lord speaking to the prophet with a strong hand, intimates the strong impression made on the prophet's mind, by what the Lord said. As if he had said, "Tell my people, in the midst of those sinners, not to fear the general tidings of evil, neither shall they seek to form alliances with any: but let them sanctify me in their hearts, and make me their fear and their confidence; and they shall find that the fear of God will drive out the fear of man, as the fire of the sun will put out the fire of the hearth; or as the ocean will swallow up all rivers." Oh! that God's people, in all ages, were to adopt the same divine plan. But I beg the Reader not to overlook, in these verses, besides this general direction, another special mercy marked: I mean in the features of Him, who is promised as a sanctuary. The very characters by which he is here revealed most fully point him out: He who is to be for a sanctuary to his people, is to be to others, for a stone of stumbling, and for a rock of offence. Now who can hesitate a moment to discover the Lord Jesus in these distinguishing characters? If there were any doubt on this subject, the scriptures of the New Testament would fully explain it: Simeon was commissioned by the Holy Ghost to tell Mary, that Jesus was set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign which should be spoken against. Luke 2:34 ; the Apostle Paul calls Jesus expressly by this name, a stumbling-stone and rock of offence, Romans 9:33 ; Peter speaks to the same amount, and both in reference to this very prophecy, and to another to the same purport in Isaiah: compare Isaiah 28:16 with 1 Peter 2:6-8 . Yea, Jesus himself makes reference to the same, in his conversation with the Jews; and as Isaiah saith in this passage, that many among the people of Judah shall stumble and fall, and be broken; so Christ explains how by falling or stumbling on this stone, viz. himself, which God the Father had laid in Zion, Matthew 21:42-44 . And, Reader, mark what the Prophet saith at the close of this paragraph, at the Lord's command, to bind up the testimony, and seal the law among his disciples what can be more gracious, on the part of God; or what more blessed to do, on the part of the believer? Oh! Lord, help me to have recourse to thy blessed word at all times, for the unalterable testimony of thy truth; and in the experience of it in my own soul, to set to it my poor seal also, that God is true; John 3:33 .
It should seem that this is the prophet's own testimony and his own resolution, in the calamitous times coming upon the church. In the prospect of the coming Saviour, under all apparently frowning providences, he will still look for smiling mercy.
W e have authority from the Holy Ghost, to make application of these words to the person of the Lord Jesus. Some have thought that, as the two sons of the prophet Isaiah Shear-jashub and Mahershalal-hash-baz, are particularly noticed by the Lord in Isaiah's ministry, the prophet also speaks of them in this verse; at least, they say, the prophet may he supposed to speak of them, as well as of Christ. But would not this be sadly to debase the subject, and enervate the scriptures, in mingling anything, or any person with the Lord Jesus Christ? I take occasion to remark, once for all, in this place, that, according to my poor humble view of divine things, men putting several constructions on passages of this kind, as partly referring to Christ, and partly referring to themselves, or those around them, is not following the steps of the Holy Ghost. It is to Jesus, the one glorious object and head of his church, all scripture points, and it is in Jesus the whole centres. We must, in the present instance, refer the whole of this passage to the Lord Jesus, since the Holy Ghost, by his servant the Apostle, hath decidedly said as much. See Hebrews 2:13 . And so again, in one of the Psalms, the sacred writer, under the spirit of prophecy, thus introduceth the Lord Christ, saying, I am as a wonder unto many; Psalms 71:7 . And hence a light is thrown over that scripture also of the prophet, to prove that what was said of Joshua the high-priest, refers not to Joshua, but to Christ; Zechariah 3:8 .
I do not think it needful to detain the Reader with long observations on this part of the chapter. The advice here given is to the same amount as the former; the Lord utterly condemns all seeking, but to himself. In all ages men are prone to look to anything and everything, for help and counsel, in their distress, rather than to God. Hence the wickedness of fortune-tellers and necromancers, and the like. The Lord hath manifested his displeasure against all of this kind. And it is only to be lamented, in a land professing the gospel of Christ, that there should be found a single person daring enough to take up so infamous a business, or a single person weak enough to make use of it. The words of this passage are an unanswerable reply, and refutation to all: should not a people seek unto their God? To be sure they should: for who but the Lord can teach his people to profit? Who but God can be their help in time of need?
How truly blessed and profitable it is to watch the Lord's care over his people! Though in times of general wickedness, the Lord visits a nation and a kingdom; yet will he take care of his chosen in the general overthrow. If men will look unto an arm of flesh, that arm shall be their confusion. But if his people do but sanctify the Lord God in their hearts, then he will be for a sanctuary; and when he sends troubles and visitations on the earth, yet like a Father to his children, who seeth a storm approaching, he brings them into the house and shuts the door after him, and thus secures them from the danger; so the Lord saith, Come my people, enter thou into the chambers of my providence and the covenant of my love, and shut, thy doors about thee, until the indignation be overpast. Oh! the love of God in Christ to his people!
Precious Jesus! I must not close my meditation on this Chapter, until that I have first bent the knee of my soul in thanks to thee, thou dear Lord, that here, as in other portions of thy blessed word, I discover, that thou who art to me the Rock of ages, and the rock of my salvation, hast been, in all ages, to the unbeliever, a stone of stumbling, and a rock offense. Lord! how is it that thou hast manifested thyself unto me, and not unto the world? How is it that thy humiliating state, thy life of sorrow, and death of shame, should appear to me so lovely, while it becomes so offensive to others? Surely it is grace makes all the difference. I should have fallen on this stone and been broken, as well as thousands have done, hadst thou not kept me from it! Yea, Lord, there was a time when I saw no beauty in thee, to desire thee: and art thou now the altogether lovely, the fairest among ten thousand! To thee, Lord, be all the praise! I bless thee, my adorable Redeemer, for that sweet scripture thou hast said, and left upon record: And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Isaiah 8". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30