The prophet threateneth Ephraim for their pride and drunkenness. The faithful residue shall be advanced in the kingdom of Christ: he rebuketh their error, their untowardness to learn, and their security. Christ the sure foundation is promised. Their security shall be tried. They are incited to the consideration of God's discreet providence.
Before Christ 725.
THE second discourse of the third book of Isaiah's prophesies, is contained in the six following chapters: for the general analysis we refer to the first note on the 24th chapter. Vitringa supposes that the whole discourse was delivered before the expedition of Sennacherib, and on occasion of some solemn embassy sent to Egypt, to implore the help of the Egyptians against the Assyrian. The parts of the first section contained in this chapter are four; first, we have a reproof of the Ephraimites and of the Jews, blinded by the divine judgment, looking round for human aid instead of the divine; which contains a denunciation of the destruction of Samaria and Jerusalem, Isaiah 28:1-4. Secondly, a promise of the restoration of the state, Isaiah 28:5-6. Thirdly, a new reproof of the same kind of men, who, not long before the time of the manifestation of the Messiah, should corrupt the doctrine of religion, and by their light carnal counsels consult for their safety and security, Isaiah 28:7-22. And fourthly, a defence of the divine oeconomy in the administration of the church, under a figure of a husbandman, diligently observing his seasons, Isaiah 28:23-29. The first part is two-fold, setting forth the fault of the Ephraimites, truly or mystically so called, Isaiah 28:1 and their punishment, Isaiah 28:2-4. The second describes the beauty and glory of the faithful, Isaiah 28:5-6. The third part proceeds in nearly the same manner as the first. In the first place, the corrupters of true religion, not long before the appearance of the Son of God, are described in lively colours, Isaiah 28:7-10. Then the punishment ordained for these men is set forth at large: first, spiritual, Isaiah 28:11-13 then temporal and external, Isaiah 28:14-22. In describing which latter punishment the prophet proceeds in such a manner, as, by appealing to the authors of those corrupt counsels, to place their crime before their eyes, and to convince them of it: Isaiah 28:14-15. About to denounce the punishment, he premises, that notwithstanding their vices, God would not neglect, at, that very time, to fulfil his great promise concerning the Messiah, Isaiah 28:16 while he does not so much denounce, as foretel, the great evils and calamities which should fall upon the incredulous, and the despisers of this salvation, Isaiah 28:17-22. The fourth part, which illustrates the oeconomy of God under the parable of a husbandman, contains an exordium demanding attention, Isaiah 28:23 and the parable itself, Isaiah 28:24-29. Vitringa.
Isaiah 28:1. Woe to the crown of pride— Or, Woe unto the crown of pride of the drunkards of Ephraim, and to the fading flower of their most glorious beauty, which is upon the head, &c. By the crown of pride of the drunkards, &c. Samaria is primarily to be understood, which is situate, as Maundrell expresses it in words which serve well to elucidate the prophet, upon a long mount of an oval figure, having first a fruitful valley, and then a ring or crown of hills running round about it. Journey from Aleppo, p. 59. The prophet alludes to the crown of flowers worn by the ancients in their drinking-matches. This image is not unfrequently made use of by the prophets to convey the strongest idea of the universal depravity and folly of the nation. In this passage the prophet undertakes to prove the folly of the Ephraimites in their explication of the law; and for that purpose compares the false and delusive professors of this branch of knowledge, to a club of drunkards; introducing JEHOVAH himself, in order to heighten his satire upon drunkenness, as speaking to them in a language to which they are no strangers. This, says Vitringa, is the primary sense of the words; but in an oblique sense they are to be referred to the Jews, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, imitating the foolish proceedings of the Ephraimites, hypocrites, profane, neglectful of God, seeking human aid, (that of the Egyptians we may suppose,) and falling under the same judgment of spiritual drunkenness; whose crown of pride was Jerusalem, and the fading flower of their most glorious beauty, the temple, the glory of their nation, on the top of the fruitful valley which divided mount Moriah from mount Olivet.
Isaiah 28:2-4. Behold, the Lord, &c.— The punishment upon Ephraim is contained in these verses, and consists of three gradations; the first in the second verse; the meaning whereof literally is, that God has ready at his command a potent prince, whom he will send against a hypocritical people, its kings, leaders, elders, and teachers, that like a horrid winter-storm he may overflow, overwhelm, and utterly destroy them. The image here used is frequent with the prophets to represent the rapid conquest of an enemy. See ch. Isaiah 8:7, Isaiah 25:4. Ezekiel 13:13. This verse would be rendered more properly, Behold the mighty one, the exceedingly strong one! Like a storm of hail, like a destructive tempest; like a rapid flood of mighty waters pouring down; he shall dash them to the ground with his hand [or with great violence.] See Bishop Lowth. The second gradation is, Isaiah 28:3 that the proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim should be trodden under feet; that is, the glory wherein they most boasted should be utterly contemned and spoiled; and the third in Isaiah 28:4 that the city or cities here spoken of should be utterly and entirely destroyed and consumed; for this is the meaning of the metaphor. The verse should be rendered, And the fading flower of the beauty of her ornament, which is upon the head of the fat valley, shall be as the early-ripe fruit before the autumn, &c. The first ripe figs were esteemed very delicious, which the prophet expresses strongly by saying, that he who plucketh them swalloweth them up, even while they are in his hand. See Jeremiah 24:2. Micah 7:1. The prophet in these verses alludes to the destruction of Samaria by the Assyrians, and of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. See Vitringa.
Isaiah 28:5-6. In that day— These verses contain a promise of the preservation of the faithful, and of the restoration and defence of the state. See chap. Isaiah 4:2. The meaning is, that after the return from the Babylonish captivity God would more clearly reveal himself to his people, and bestow upon them those spiritual blessings reserved for the times of the Messiah. Compare Jeremiah 31:1; Jeremiah 30:22 and Ezekiel 36:28. The latter clause of the 6th verse seems to refer more particularly to the heroic Maccabees. See Zechariah 9:13; Zechariah 10:5-6. Justin, speaking of the state of the Jewish nation, restored by the Maccabees, says, that their power was such, as to submit to no king of the Macedonians after Demetrius; but, subject to their own rulers, they subdued Syria in many battles. See Hist. lib. xxxvi. c. 1.
Isaiah 28:7-8. But they also have erred, &c.— But they also stagger with wine, and reel with strong drink: the priest and the prophet stagger through strong drink; they are drowned in wine; they reel with strong drink, &c. We have observed that a new set of men are here introduced, who are shewn to be guilty of the same vice with the Ephraimites above-mentioned; that is to say, of corrupting religion and judgment. It is plain that the priests and prophets, the teachers, scribes, judges, and elders of the people of God, or in general the Pharisees and Sadducees, are here meant; who are condemned, not of drunkenness properly speaking, but of figurative drunkenness; that is, the inculcating corrupt doctrine, different from the tradition of their fathers, and from sound reason; and in their public judgments concerning religion and law, and in their counsels concerning the safety and preservation of the state, wandering far from sober judgment and a sound mind. See Isaiah 28:9. The history of the Pharisees and Sadducees sufficiently explains this prophesy.
Isaiah 28:9-10. Whom shall he teach knowledge?— This period, though different in words, is the same in sense with that preceding. The meaning is, that the teachers, priests, and elders of the people, whose duty it was to maintain the purity and integrity of the public doctrine and counsels, had deviated so far from the path of right, that they were entirely ignorant with respect to the true doctrine of salvation, which was to be found in the ancient patriarchal and Mosaic system; they could neither perceive, digest, nor teach it: that the scholastic doctrine of that time here referred to was a doctrine accommodated to a puerile, childish understanding, as was that of the Pharisees; not masculine, solid, well-connected, such as ought to be the doctrine of true religion, which should satisfy a man of a strong and well-exercised mind; but that it consisted of precepts, commended indeed under the specious name of ancient traditions, but entirely independent, and by no means connected together. The reader will observe the italics in these verses, which should be omitted in the perusal, as they destroy the sense: the original of the last verse is remarkably strong and expressive, particularly of the trifling and false doctrine of the Pharisees. See Vitringa, and Origen against Ceisus, lib. 2: p. 60.
Isaiah 28:11-13. For with stammering lips, &c.— Instead of refreshing, in Isaiah 28:12 we may read, happy place; and the 13th may be rendered, But the word of the Lord shall be unto them,—that they may go, &c. These verses contain the spiritual punishment consequent upon the fault before specified. When the teachers of the church, says Vitringa, little regard the wholesome doctrine of the word of God, but follow their own simple and trifling ideas, God interposes with his judgment, and permits them to be alienated more and more from the sound and salutary doctrine of faith, which alone brings comfort to the conscience; and to be delivered up to the vanity of their own understandings, to the destruction of their souls; an example whereof the prophet here proposes in the Pharisees, but which is often verified among Christians themselves, so called. God had said to this people, (that is to say, those of Jerusalem, as appears from Isaiah 28:14.) This is the rest, &c. that is, the doctrine of grace and remission of sins through Jesus Christ: See Matthew 11:28. But they would not hear; they (the Pharisees and teachers of those times) rejected the counsel of God towards themselves; their sins therefore, as it is usual with the divine justice, were turned into their punishment, as is expressed metaphorically in the 11th verse, and properly in the 13th; the meaning whereof is, that as the Pharisees and teachers of those times preferred their own blind and foolish doctrines to the pure word of grace, God would give them up to the blindness and belief of those doctrines; and hence their Talmuds, Cabbalas, and all the foolishness and profaneness of those doctrines which they had preferred to the genuine truths of the Gospel, and which have caused all those evils denounced at the latter end of the 13th verse. See chap. Isaiah 8:14-15. Concerning the more elevated and mystical sense which the apostle has given to the words of the 11th verse, we shall speak when we come to 1 Corinthians 14:21. In the mean time we refer to Vitringa.
Isaiah 28:14-15. Wherefore, hear the word of the Lord, &c.— The prophet, about to describe the temporal and external punishment in these verses, addresses the teachers and elders of the people, and in a strong manner convicts them of their iniquity. By death and hell are understood those powerful princes with whom the unbelieving Jews had entered into a covenant, having cast off their dependance upon God; but more particularly the Romans under whose subjection alone they declared themselves when they refused Christ for their king: We have no king but Caesar, say they; John 19:15. See Daniel 7:17.
Isaiah 28:16. Behold, I lay in Zion, &c.— Or, Behold, I am he who layeth for a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tried stone, a corner stone, precious, a sure foundation, &c. The prophet seemed immediately about to declare the temporal punishment determined for the Jewish elders; and indeed he does so, but in such a manner as to declare the counsel of God concerning the manner of executing this judgment, and the whole reason and order of its execution. He teaches therefore, in the first place, to refute the boasting of the wicked concerning the false foundation of their confidence; that God was now prepared to lay a better and more certain foundation of confidence for the true believers, which should sustain the great edifice of his church; a foundation with every property necessary to sustain the church; and that he would at length produce that foundation-stone, upon which the believers of all times had fixed their eyes; in which foundation whoever should perseveringly place his confidence, he should never fail; and this foundation, for the consolation of the pious, the prophet contradistinguishes, and opposes to the false foundation wherein the wicked placed their trust. The connection is this: "Therefore—because you so impiously suppose that there is no foundation for the church, no support but such as carnal wisdom may supply;—Behold, I, the powerful and faithful God, will at this time fulfil my promises, and lay in Sion that stone of the Great Redeemer, in whom whosoever believeth shall not be confounded." See Amos 9:11. There is no doubt of the reference of this passage to the Messiah; who was a tried stone intimately known and explored by his Father; and who is also a trying stone, the touch-stone of the faith and truth of his people: A corner-stone; he, in whom all the parts of the spiritual building are united, Jews and Gentiles being made one in him. See Ephesians 2:16. A precious and a sure foundation, in whom are found all the treasures of grace; who is that only foundation, that rock, whereon his church is firmly built; on whom his faithful people wholly depend; and against which the gates of hell shall never prevail. See 1 Corinthians 3:11. Matthew 16:18. It is added, He that believeth shall not make haste; which the LXX render, shall not be ashamed. St. Peter and St. Paul have both followed this rendering; and Vitringa thinks that the idea of being ashamed, is comprized in the Hebrew word יחישׁ iachish which we render shall not make haste; i.e. He shall not be in that perturbed, unsettled state of mind, which arises from doubt and uncertainty: "He shall possess his soul in patience, (according to a similar expression in scripture; Luke 21:19 compared with Romans 8:25.) and have none of those uneasy fears and sensations of shame and chagrin arising from the apprehension of disappointment." What a blessing it is, to be always preserved in such a spirit!
Isaiah 28:17-22. Judegment also will I lay to the line— The prophet, having provided for the safety of those who put their trust in God, prepares himself to denounce the judgments ready for the profane and hypocritical scorners of Jerusalem, who boasted that they had made a covenant with death and with hell, renouncing all hope of salvation from God; and the denunciation of this judgment is comprehended in various articles, the first whereof is in the 17th verse, wherein God testifies that he will not spare them, but proceed with them according to the strict line of justice and severity; and that it should come to pass that those formidable people themselves, with whom they had made a covenant, should bring upon them a total and sweeping destruction: see Isaiah 28:2. And who knows not how exactly this was fulfilled by the Romans? The next article is comprised Isaiah 28:18-20. The meaning whereof is, that the covenant with the Romans, wherein they had placed so much confidence, should be broken and dis-annulled; and they should be exposed to the vengeance and power of the Romans, to which, while deprived of the divine aid, they were themselves utterly unequal: wherefore it should come to pass that this overflowing scourge should entirely destroy them. The sense of the metaphorical expressions in the 20th verse is, that the Jews, having broken their covenant with the Romans, should be most certainly overwhelmed by this overflowing scourge, because they were utterly unequal to the Romans, when deprived of the divine aid. It was that aid alone which could supply their defect; but God being determined to hide his face from them, and to desert them utterly, the bed would be too short for them to stretch themselves upon, and the covering too narrow for them to wrap themselves in: their own powers and abilities would be insufficient to their protection and defence. The emblem, chap. Isaiah 33:23 is of similar elegance. Spiritually understood, this figure may be applied to a man seeking to be justified by his own righteousness, without applying to the righteousness which is by faith: he will find the bed of his own works and merits too short, and the covering too narrow. The third article is contained in the 21st verse, to which is added an admonition in the 22nd. The meaning of the 21st is, that God, as if moved with severe indignation, would at this time fearfully display his judgments, to destroy his obstinate and professed enemies, in the same manner as he destroyed the kings of Canaan, (see Joshua 10:11.) and as the Philistines were destroyed at mount Perazim. See 2 Samuel 5:20-25 chap. Isaiah 30:30-31. The destruction of the Jewish common-wealth is called the Lord's strange work; and surely with great propriety; for nothing could be more singular and wonderful than that God should so entirely reject his people, and so fearfully destroy their temple and city. The 22nd verse, containing the admonition to the scorners, (see Isaiah 28:14.) and exhorting them to fly from the wrath to come, would be better understood if rendered thus: Now therefore, do not exercise your scorning any more, lest your bands be made stronger; [that you may avoid, if not the whole, yet a part of the divine wrath.] For I have heard what is decreed and precisely determined by the Lord God of Hosts against the whole land. The last words are rendered by Bishop Lowth, For a full and decisive decree have I heard from the Lord JEHOVAH, God of Hosts, on the whole land. See Vitringa.
Isaiah 28:23-29. Give ye ear, &c.— We have here the fourth member of this section, in which this severe judgment of God denounced in the preceding verses, is defended by a parable taken from agriculture, wherein the prophet represents allegorically the intentions and method of the divine judgments; asserting that God acts in different ways, but at the same time with the greatest wisdom in punishing the wicked: laying judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet, and weighing with the greatest exactness the differences of time, of men, and of things, together with every necessity, for severity or mercy. These are represented under a continued allegory, borrowed from agriculture and threshing; which images are in a manner appropriated and consecrated to this topic, and have been already explained in the course of the work. See Bishop Lowth's 10th Prelection, and Vitringa; who has very copiously elucidated this parable. Bishop Lowth reads Isaiah 28:28. The bread-corn [is beaten out] with the threshing-wain. But not for ever will he continue thus to thresh it; nor to vex it with the wheel of his wain; nor to bruise it with the hoofs of his cattle.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, Though judgments are denounced on all God's enemies, yet they will first begin at the house of God, and the sinners in Zion must feel the heaviest scourge. Such is the woe pronounced here on Ephraim, and Samaria the capital of the ten revolted tribes.
1. The sins charged upon them are pride and drunkenness. Their country being rich and fertile, abundance swelled their vain hearts, and sensual appetite abused their distinguished mercies. Carousing at the festal board, their heads with garlands crowned, they proudly defied sorrow, fearless of the wrath they provoked. Note; (1.) Pride on God's gifts is the sure way to provoke him to deprive us of them. (2.) A drunkard is a monster in nature; and he who thus basely chooses to degrade himself into a brute justly deserves to be made a companion of devils.
2. Heavy is the curse which the prophet is commissioned to pronounce on these proud drunkards. As they gave up their senses to the base servitude of lust, and drowned their reason in excess, in just judgment they should be delivered to their foes. The king of Assyria, Salmanezer, like a resistless hail-storm, or winter's flood, should bear down all before him. The crown of pride, their king and his mighty men, or Samaria the metropolis, or the crowns of garlands on the drunkard's head, when they were surprised in this defenceless and intoxicated state, he would cast down, and would tread the drunkards under his feet, reducing them to a state of most abject wretchedness. Their glorious beauty, their numerous inhabitants, or their country decked with vineyards, and valleys thick with corn, shall fade as quickly as the flower's bloom departs, and be devoured by the hosts of Assyria as greedily as the first ripe fruit; so that nothing but desolation should be seen. Note; (1.) They who give the reins to their appetites, and to drunkenness especially, are voluntary slaves, and court a servitude most wretched even now; issuing at present in the ruin of their health, fortune, and families, and bringing them hastily to that place of torment where a drop of water will be sought in vain to cool a flaming tongue. (2.) God's ministers must denounce his woes against men's sins freely and plainly. (3.) Whatever the sinner here is proud of, it is but a fading flower, and at death at farthest, if not before, will vanish.
3. In the midst of the desolations of Ephraim, Judah and Benjamin, the residue of God's people, have a gracious promise made to them. The Lord shall be a crown of glory and a diadem of beauty to them, eminently distinguishing, and protecting them from the power of the Assyrians, under Hezekiah, a type of that son of David, in whom the offices of King and Priest should be united: and for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, which God would bestow on the king and his magistrates, to execute righteous judgment, which is the great happiness of every state; and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate, enduing their generals and soldiers with courage to vanquish their enemies, and pursue them to the gates of their city. Note; (1.) Christ is his faithful people's glory, and in his wisdom, righteousness, and strength, they are made more than conquerors over all their enemies. (2.) Whatever the Lord is to us, or does for us, we are bound to ascribe the praise of all to him.
4. A heavy complaint is lodged against Judah for her sins. In her were found the sins of Israel, and the same drunkenness led them astray from God. Yea, so generally had their scandalous sins spread, that priest, prophet, and people were alike infected with them. The consequence of which was, that the pretended prophet uttered the fancies of his inflamed brains for visions, deceiving, and being deceived; the priests, instead of the conscientious discharge of their office, mistook God's law, misinterpreted his oracles, and led their hearers into fatal errors: or on the bench decided wrong, to the great injury of truth and justice. Yea, so common and infamous was their drunkenness, that every table was full of vomit, and no place clean; a scene as loathsome (if possible) in the eyes of sober men, as it is detestable in the sight of God. Note; Drunkenness is vile and brutish in every man; but in a priest, a minister of the sanctuary, what words can express the infamy, impiety, and scandalousness of the crime!
2nd, Drunkenness necessarily brought stupidity upon their minds, and steeled them against all the warnings of God.
1. In vain were all the teachings of the prophets, solicitous as they were to make them understand; waiting upon them with patient perseverance, and daily inculcating their lessons; and plainly, and affectionately withal, shewing them how nearly they were interested in the matter, as being the only way for them to obtain deliverance from the threatened evils, or pardon and refreshing to their guilty consciences. Yet as soon might a child at the breast be taught, so stupified were they with their drunkenness, and so obstinate, they would not hear; though the word was ever sounding in their ears, it never reached their hearts; and they seem to have turned it into ridicule, repeating it after the prophet in mockery, לקו קו לצו צו Tsav latsav, kav lakav, or at their drunken feasts jesting with the most sacred words of scripture. Note; (1.) God condescends to teach us as babes; his word is the sincere milk; and, as a nurse cherishes her children, his ministers are sent to wait upon us with unwearied patience. (2.) Children's minds must not be over-burthened; a little, as they are able to receive it, will be the most profitable instruction. (3.) There is rest for the weary in Jesus, and refreshing for the miserable: it argues our folly to be as great as our wickedness, to reject our own mercies, and refuse his calls to come to him, that we may find rest to our souls. (4.) Many hear the word of God, whose hearts continue impenetrable; yea, they will not understand, and none so blind as these. (5.) The last step of hardened wickedness is making a jest of things sacred.
2. In just judgment God gives them up to the ruin they have chosen. With stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people, when foreign armies shall waste their country; so that their destruction was determined; that they might go and fall backward and be broken, and snared, and taken, as the punishment of their apostacy from God, first given up to the Babylonians, and at last their country utterly destroyed by the Romans. Note; They who will not attend to God's calls to repentance, will hear his terrible voice of judgment, when their ruin is past recovery.
3rdly, The prophesy beginning at the 14th verse some apply to the desolation of Judaea by the Assyrians; but it seems to belong especially to the Jews in Christ's day, and the desolations which the Romans shortly after brought upon them.
1. The scornful men who rejected the prophetic admonition, too great to take rebuke, and infatuated to their ruin, boasted themselves secure. The death and hell which the prophet threatened, they feared not: they thought themselves as safe as if they had made a compact with the grave, and were confident, whatever overflowing scourge passed through the land, it would not come to them; making lies their refuge, and hiding themselves under falsehood, they trusted in the lying prophets who encouraged them, or in their own strength, wealth, and policy, to overcome or over-reach their adversaries. By the overflowing scourge, the Roman army seems intended, against which they thought themselves safe, but found, too late, their sad delusion. Note; (1.) When we are in covenant with God through a Redeemer, and at peace with him through the blood of sprinkling; then, and only then, have we made a covenant with death, and cannot be hurt thereby. (2.) Vain confidence buoys up sinners to the last, but there will then be found a lie in their right hand.
2. The prophet admonishes them where alone they can safely place their confidence. Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation, the Lord Jesus Christ, other foundation than whom no man can lay; a stone, a rock, firm, and immoveable; a tried stone, who has been proved the sure support of his saints in every age; or a stone of trial, by whom men's states are discovered, and their characters determined; a precious corner-stone, supporting the whole spiritual building, and inestimably prized by every believer who knows the value of such a Redeemer; a sure foundation, which will stand for eternity, and on which the faithful may safely trust body and soul: he that believeth shall not make haste, but under every trial patiently wait the Lord's leisure; and thus never will be confounded, or ashamed, as it is rendered, 1 Peter 2:6 for he has never failed those who trusted him, and never can or will disappoint the hopes of those who perseveringly rely upon him.
3. He warns them of the folly, sin, and danger of their conduct, in trusting on lying vanities. For when the Lord shall lay judgment to the line, and righteousness to the plummet, as builders to prove their work straight, their ways will be found perverse, and their judgment ensue; then their vain hopes shall fail, and the hail-storm sweep away their refuge of lies. The army of the enemy shall as easily and utterly overwhelm them, their lying prophets, their riches and temple together, or whatever else they trust in, as the waters of the deluge did the sinners of old. Then their covenant with death would be proved a delusion; and the sword of the Chaldeans, or rather of the Romans, as an overflowing scourge, pass through, and as mire in the streets they should be trodden down. From the time that it goeth forth, neither policy nor power will be able to oppose it; it shall take you as prisoners for captivity, or seize you as criminals for the sword; and this continually and thoroughly, till God's judgments are executed. Morning by morning, shall it pass over, by day and by night, without interruption the siege would be carried on, and the devastations increase; and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report, so terrible would the tidings be which those who fled into Jerusalem should carry of the ravages of the Chaldean or Roman army. For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it; which either describes the insufficiency of their projects, and the uncomfortableness of their state, when their beds would give them no repose; or the case of Jerusalem, crowded with those who fled thither, whose useless number increased the miseries of the besieged. For the Lord shall rise up as in mount Perazim, and against his arm resistance is vain; he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon; two eminent instances wherein he displayed his terrible majesty against his enemies, 2 Samuel 5:20. 1 Chronicles 14:11. Joshua 10:10-13 that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act; he used to fight for them, but now is turned to be their enemy, and their fall is sure. Note; (1.) If God lay judgment to the line, and righteousness to the plummet, who can stand, or bear the scrutiny? (2.) It is the folly of the self-righteous and the hypocrite that they cry peace, when there is no peace. (3.) If sinners cannot bear the report of God's terrors without vexation, nor hear of hell, and torments, and eternal despair, without commotion, how will they endure them? (4.) They who think their moral duties will yield them a covering in the day of God, and seek repose in their own righteousnesses, will find the bed too short, the covering too narrow, and perish in their own deceivings. (5.) Vengeance is God's strange work; he delighteth not in the death of a sinner.
4. The whole is pressed upon their consciences for their conviction and reformation. Now therefore, to-day, whilst it is called to-day, and yet there is mercy, be ye not mockers, despising these divine notices; lest your bands be made strong, and aggravated guilt provoke a heavier judgment: for I have heard from the Lord of Hosts, who cannot lie, and is able to make good his word, a consumption, even determined upon the whole earth, or on the land of Judaea; it shall be swept as with the besom of destruction. See Daniel 9:27. Note; (1.) It is merciful in God to give sinners warning; he leaves them then without excuse. (2.) Mockers will be strangely disappointed, when the terrors which they despised seize them, and the warnings that they ridiculed are proved dreadful realities.
4thly, The prophet, in God's name, calls on them for attention, and gives them a parable of warning.
1. He bids them regard the husbandman; what various methods he uses; how prudently he plows and sows, casting the seed into the proper soil, and in the appointed season; and when he has gathered his fruits, how wisely he manages them, using more force with the seeds which are more firm and difficult to be beat out of the ear, and less with such as would be liable to be bruised. And when the bread-corn is beat out with the threshing instrument, (which was a kind of low cart, drawn by horses or oxen, with iron spikes at the bottom) he does not suffer it to be trampled on too much, or broken with the wheel on the floor, but carries it to the mill to be ground. So,
2. God would not always be warning, and making preparations for the execution of his judgments, but inflict them according to the several deserts of sinners. Note; (1.) All wisdom cometh from above. If the husbandman be taught to plow and sow aright, he owes it to God wonderful in counsel. (2.) The heart of man is as the fallow-ground, obdurate and unfruitful, till God in his word breaks up the stubborn soil, and awakens the sinner's conscience. (3.) Christ is the living seed; the heart which receives him will yield fruit unto God. (4.) God knows the several dispositions of his believing people, and dispenses his word and providences in such a way towards them, as may most effectually answer the purposes of his grace. (5.) In proportion to their guilt and provocations will be the execution of the divine vengeance on the wicked. (6.) In all his ways and works God will manifest his own glory, and appear wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Isaiah 28". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany