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Bible Commentaries

The Pulpit Commentaries

Isaiah 43

Verses 1-28


Isaiah 43:1-7

A RENEWED PROMISE TO ISRAEL OF PROTECTION AND DELIVERANCE. Severe rebuke (Isaiah 42:18-25) is followed, as so often in Isaiah (Isaiah 1:25-27; Isaiah 4:2-6; Isaiah 9:1-16, etc.), by comfort and consolation. Israel is assured that God has not cast him off, and promised the comfort of the Divine presence during the existing tribulation (verse 2), and. a speedy restoration to Palestine (verses 3-7). The scattered Israelites will be brought together from all quarters by the Divine omnipoteney.

Isaiah 43:1

But now. The words mark the strong contrast between the closing passage of the preceding chapter and the opening paragraph of the present one. Israel had undergone a severe punishment for his sins; he is still suffering, but now there is going to be an entire change. He is to be protected and delivered. Created thee … formed. thee redeemed thee … called thee by thy name. An ascending series of benefits. First, creation, like that of formless matter out of nought; then, formation, or putting of the formless matter into shape; thirdly, redemption, or making them all his own; lastly, calling them by their name, and so conferring on them a proud and enviable distinction. On this fourfold ground God claims Israel as his own.

Isaiah 43:2

Through the waters … through the rivers; i.e. through troubles of any kind (comp. Psalms 66:12, "We went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place"). There were, perhaps, special troubles to be endured connected with the final Babylonian struggle. There were certainly others connected with the tedious and dangerous journey from Babylonia to Palestine (Ezra 8:22, Ezra 8:31). There were others, again, after the Holy Land was reached, arising out of the jealousy and ill will of neighbouring nations (Ezra 4:1-24; Ezra 5:1-17.; Nehemiah 4-6.). Neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. The literal fulfilment in the persons of the "three children" (Daniel 3:27) will be obvious to every reader. But the prophecy has, no doubt, a far wider scope.

Isaiah 43:3

The Holy One of Israel (comp. Isaiah 41:14, Isaiah 41:20, with the comment). Thy Saviour. He who had saved them front Pharaoh (Exodus 14:23-31), from Jabin (Judges 4:1-24.), from Midian (Judges 7:1-25.), from the Philistines (2 Samuel 8:1), from Zerah (2 Chronicles 14:9-15), from Sennacherib (Isaiah 37:36). The term is first used of God by David in 2 Samuel 22:3 and Psalms 106:21 (if that psalm be Davidical). It is also applied to God once in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 14:8), and once in Hosea (Hosea 13:4). With Isaiah, in these later chapters it is a favourite epithet, being used of God no fewer than eight times (see verse 11; Isaiah 45:15, Isaiah 45:21; Isaiah 47:15; Isaiah 49:26; Isaiah 60:16; Isaiah 63:8) With his eye fixed on the deliverance of Israel out of the double captivity of sin and of Babylon, he naturally had much before him this aspect of Jehovah. I gave Egypt for thy ransom, etc.; rather, I have given; that is to say, "In my counsels I have already assigned to the Persians, as compensation for their letting thee go free, the broad countries of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Seba." Even the latest date assigned by sceptical critics to "the Second Isaiah" would make this a most remarkable prophecy. Egypt was not reduced, nor was Ethiopia made tributary to Persia until several years after the death of Cyrus, whose son, Cambyses, effected the conquests about b.c. 527-6. Human foresight could not, in the lifetime of Cyrus, have predicted with any certainty what would be the result of collision between Egypt and Persia; much less could it have ventured on the improbable supposition that the remote Ethiopia would submit itself to the Achae-menisn yoke. Yet this was the result of the invasion of Cambyses, who made Egypt a Persian province, and forced the Ethiopians to submit to the payment of an annual tribute (see Herod; 3.97; 7.69). And Seba. If "Seba" is "the land of Meroe, which is enclosed between the White and Blue Niles" (Delitzsch), it may be questioned whether really this ever formed a portion of the Persian empire. But Isaiah has probably no very distinct knowledge of the geographical position of Seba, or of the relations between the Sabaeans and the rest of the Ethiopians. He couples the two together, both here and in Isaiah 45:14, as forming two portions of one nation. The subjection of the Ethiopians involves, in his eyes, the subjection of the Sabaeans. And we cannot say that he is wrong, since it is not at all clear that the Sabaeans were not generally spread through Ethiopia, or at any rate scattered in various parts of the country.

Isaiah 43:4

Since thou wast precious. "Since" probably means "from the time that" (LXX; ἀφ οὗ), not "because," as Delitzsch and Mr. Cheyne render. Israel became "precious" from the time that the promise was given to Jacob that in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed (Genesis 28:14). Thenceforward God placed the interests of Israel above those of "men" generally, and markedly above those of any other "people." People; rather, peoples—as Mizraim, Cush, Seba (Isaiah 43:3).

Isaiah 43:5

Fear not: for I am with thee (comp. Isaiah 41:10). I will bring thy seed from the east … from the west. The actual extent of the Jewish diaspora in Isaiah's day has been greatly exaggerated by some modern critics, who say that there were at that date "bands of Jewish exiles in the far lands of the Mediterranean, and even in China" (Cheyne). Israel had been carried captive into Mesopotamia and into Media (2 Kings 17:6; 1 Chronicles 5:26), perhaps, also, into other regions belonging at the time to Assyria, as Babylonia, Assyria Proper, Syria. Two hundred thousand Jews had been taken to Nineveh by Sennacherib, and planted probably by him m outlying portions of his dominions. But such transplantation would not carry the dispersion further than Cilicia and Cyprus towards the west, Armenia towards the north, Media towards the east, and the shores of the Persian Gulf towards the south. Any scattering of the nation into regions more remote than these, as into [Egypt, Ethiopia, Elam (Isaiah 11:11), and China—if Sinim is China (Isaiah 49:12)—must have been seen by Isaiah in vision, or made known to him by revelation. It had not taken place in his day. The expression, "ends of the earth" (verse 6), must not be pressed in Isaiah any more than in Herodotus, where the ἐσχατίαι τῆς οἰκουμέης are India, Arabia, Ethiopia, and Scythia (3:106-116).

Isaiah 43:6

Bring my sons. The nations are called upon, not merely to "let Israel go," but to conduct and escort them from the places of their abode to their own country. (On the need of such escort, see Ezra 8:22, Ezra 8:31. On the actual furnishing of an escort in one case by a Persian king, see Nehemiah 2:7, Nehemiah 2:8.)

Isaiah 43:7

Every one that is called by my name. The very name of "Israel" meant "prince of God," or "soldier of God," and thus every Israelite was "called by God's name." Israelites were also known among the nations as Jehovah-worshippers (see the Moabite Stone, line 18). I have created … formed … made him (comp. Isaiah 43:1). "The three verbs describe the process of formation from the first rough cutting to the perfecting of the work" (Cheyne). The third verb would, perhaps, be best translated. "I have perfected," or "I have completed (him)." All three acts—creation, formation, and completion—are done by God for his own glory (comp. Proverbs 16:4).

Isaiah 43:8-13

A RENEWED CHALLENGE TO THE NATIONS. The nations are once more challenged (comp. Isaiah 41:1, Isaiah 41:21-26) to set forth the claims of their gods against those of Jehovah. Israel is summoned on the one hand (Isaiah 43:8); the nations on the other (Isaiah 43:9). What prophecy can the nations produce, either old or new? The Israelites can abundantly witness on behalf of Jehovah (Isaiah 43:10). Jehovah adds a further witness of himself (Isaiah 43:11-13).

Isaiah 43:8

Bring forth the blind people that have eyes. A tribunal is supposed to have been prepared, before which the contending parties are summoned to appear and plead. Israel is first summoned, as "a blind people that have eyes;" i.e. a people long blind (Isaiah 29:18; Isaiah 35:5; Isaiah 42:7, Isaiah 42:18, Isaiah 42:19), who have now, to some extent, recovered their sight (Isaiah 32:3; Isaiah 35:5), and are ready to witness for God. Next, the nations are summoned (see the following verse).

Isaiah 43:9

All the nations; rather, all ye nations. Israel is a witness on the one hand, a multitude of nations on the other, recalling the contention of Elijah with the four hundred priests of Baal (1 Kings 18:22). The people; rather, the peoples. Who among them can declare this? i.e. which of them can show any prediction made by their gods comparable to the one contained in Isa 43:1 -77 And show us former things. "Exhibit the past history of the world in well-attested documents" (Kay); "Make mention of past events which they have correctly foretold" (Cheyne, Delitzsch). According to the former rendering, the contrast is between the solemn, serious history of early times in Genesis, and the grotesque and extravagant myths, in which the nations generally embodied their views of the primitive ages. Let them bring forth their witnesses. Witnesses that the prophecies were really delivered before the events happened, or that the accounts of past times are such as have really come down to them from their ancestors. Or let them hear and say, It is truth. It is uncertain whether we ought to translate the initial vau here by "and" or by "or." If the former, the sense is, "And then let them (i.e. the witnesses) give ear to the assertions made, and declare them true;" if the latter, we may render, with Dr. Kay, "Or, if they have no witnesses, let them listen to the sacred records, and confess them to be the truth."

Isaiah 43:10

Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord; i.e. "Ye, Israel, are the witnesses that I cite"—ye can prove the antiquity of the historical books of Scripture by the ordinary modes by which antiquity is proved, and also the exact dates of the prophetical sues. Ye can show what clear and unambiguous prophecies have been delivered centuries before the event, as the destruction of Jerusalem by a nation in whom none can fail to recognize the Romans (Deuteronomy 28:49-57), prophesied by Moses; the demolition of the altar at Bethel by a king of the house of David, Josiah by name, prophesied by a man of God in the reign of Jeroboam (l Kings Romans 13:2); the long continuance of David's progeny upon the throne of Judah, prophesied by Nathan in David's time (2 Samuel 7:11-16); the fairly long continuance of the house of Jehu on the throne of Israel, prophesied to Jehu himself (2 Kings 10:30); and the like. Israel has been at all times, and still is, one of the most important witnesses for God that exists in the world. Like the Church, Israel is the "witness and keeper" of a large portion of "Holy Writ." Her past history witnesses for God. Her continued existence and present condition constitute additional testimony. And my Servant whom I have chosen. To explain this as meaning "and ye are also my servant, whom I have chosen" (Nagelsbach, Cheyne, Delitzsch), is to empty it of all its force. Manifestly, a further witness is adduced, "Ye are my witnesses; and so is my Servant," etc. The "Servant" intended can only be the one true Servant of Isaiah 42:1-7, since faithful Israel is already among the witnesses. The prophet rises above the consideration of the immediately present, or of the single trial-scene which he is setting before us, and has in mind the great controversy ever going on between those who are for God and those who are against him. He sees, on the side of God

(1) faithful Israel: and

(2) Christ, the "Faithful Witness"

(Revelation 1:5; Revelation 3:14), who "came into the world that he should bear witness of the truth" (John 18:37). These are the two witnesses by whom God's truth is maintained in a world of falsehood and delusion. That ye may know. The subject is changed. "Ye" here points to "the nations," or mankind at large. I am he (comp. Isaiah 41:4). Before me there was no God formed. All other gods beside me are "formed" gods—invented, fashioned, made by men. None of them was ever made before me.

Isaiah 43:11

Beside me there is no saviour. None but God can save men. Man cannot make atonement for his fellows; "for it cost more to redeem their souls, so that he must let that alone for ever" (Psalms 49:8, Prayer-book Version). The human "saviours" whom God raises up to deliver his people out of the hand of their enemies (Jdg 3:9; 2 Kings 13:5; Nehemiah 9:27, etc.), are "saviours" in quite a secondary and inferior sense.

Isaiah 43:12

I have declared, etc. Translate, I announced, and delivered, add proclaimed (the deliverance), when there was no strange god among you; i.e I did what the idol-gods cannot do—announced deliverance, and effected it, and further proclaimed (or published) it, at the time when you Israelites had no idolatry among you. The allusion is to the deliverance of Jerusalem from Sennacherib, which God announced by the mouth of Isaiah (Isaiah 37:33-35), effected by the hand of his angel (Isaiah 37:36), and then caused to be published by Isaiah, who wrote the two accounts of the deliverance—both that in his own prophecy, and that in the Second Book of Kings (2 Kings 19:20-35). At that time there was no (open) idolatry in Judah, since Hezekiah had destroyed the idols (2 Kings 18:4). Therefore ye are my witnesses that I am God; literally, and ye are my witnesses, and I am God. Ye can bear witness of the truth of what I have asserted in the previous portion of the verse, and your witness to this effect proves me to be God.

Isaiah 43:13

Yea, before the day was I am he. So the LXX; Jerome, and Stier; but most moderns translate, "Yea, from this time forth I am he" (setup. Ezekiel 48:35). Kay, however, thinks that the translation of the Authorized Version may stand. Who shall let it? literally, as in Isaiah 14:27, who shall turn it back? i.e. "reverse it, undo it." Surely no one.

Isaiah 43:14-21

A DECLARATION AGAINST BABYLON, AND A PROMISE OF ISRAEL'S RESTORATION. Having wound up the preceding "controversy" with a reference to his own power to work great results (Isaiah 43:13), Jehovah now brings forward two examples—the discomfiture of Babylon (Isaiah 43:14, Isaiah 43:15), and the recovery and restoration of Israel (Isaiah 43:16-21), both of which he is about to accomplish.

Isaiah 43:14

For your sake I have sent to Babylon. For Israel's sake God has already, in his counsels, sent to Babylon the instruments of his vengeance—Cyrus and his soldiers—and by their instrumentality has brought down all their nobles; or rather, has brought them all down (to be fugitives (comp. Isaiah 15:5); and the Chaldeans; or, even the Chaldeans. The Chaldeans are not in Isaiah, as in Daniel (Daniel 2:2; Daniel 4:7; Daniel 5:7), a special class of Babylonians, but, as elsewhere commonly in Scripture, the Babylonians generally (see Isa 12:1-6 :19; Isaiah 47:1). In the native inscriptions the term is especially applied to the inhabitants of the tract upon the sea-coast. Whose cry is in the ships; rather, into their ships of wailing. The Chaldeans, flying from the Persian attack, betake themselves to their ships with cries of grief, the ships thereby becoming "ships of wailing." The nautical character of the Babylonians is strongly marked in the inscriptions, where "the ships of Ur are celebrated at a very remote period, and the native kings, when hard pressed by the Assyrians, are constantly represented as going on ship-board, and crossing the Persian Gulf to Susiana, or to some of the islands. The abundant traffic and the numerous merchants of Babylon are mentioned by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 17:4). AEsehylus, moreover, notes that the Babylonians of his day were "navigators of ships" ('Persae,' 11. 52-55).

Isaiah 43:15

The Creator of Israel. An unusual epithet; but comp. Isaiah 43:1, Isaiah 43:7. Your King (see Judges 8:23; 1Sa 8:7; 1 Samuel 12:12; and comp. Isaiah 33:22; Isaiah 45:6).

Isaiah 43:16

The Lord, which maketh a way in the sea. The deliverance out of Egypt is glanced at, to prepare the way for the announcement of deliverance from the hand of Babylon. Then "a way was made in the sea" (Exodus 14:21-29), "and a path in the mighty waters;" now it will be necessary to make "a way in the wilderness" (Isaiah 43:19).

Isaiah 43:17

Which bringeth forth the chariot and horse. Still the reference is to the events of the Exodus, whereof Israel is reminded, since "the redemption out of Egypt was a type and pledge of the deliverance to be looked for out of Babylon" (Delitzsch). God then "brought out" after Israel, to attack him, "chariot and horse, army and power;" but the result was their destruction. They shall lie down … they shall not rise; rather, they lie down they do not rise (so Cheyne and Delitzsch). The future has here, as so often, the force of a present, the present being the praesens historicum. What the prophet describes in a few touches is the complete overthrow of Pharaoh's host in the Red Sea, and the entire extinction of that life which had just before shown itself as "lusty and strong." Quenched as tow (comp. Isaiah 42:3). The metaphor is not drawn from burning tow, which is not very readily extinguished, but from the wick of a lamp, which a single breath puts out.

Isaiah 43:18

Remember ye not the former things. The old deliverance will be as nothing compared with the new. Israel must cast its eye forwards, not backwards. Mr. Cheyne well compares Jeremiah 23:7, Jeremiah 23:8, and also well notes that "the chief glories of the second manifestation are spiritual." Israel in the wilderness was a stiff:necked and rebellious people, given to murmuring, licentiousness, and idolatry. Israel, returned from Babylon, will no more hanker after idols, but will have God's Law "put in their inward parts" (Jeremiah 32:33), and will "show forth God's praise" (Jeremiah 23:21).

Isaiah 43:19

Behold, I will do a new thing (comp. Isaiah 42:9, with the comment). It is, of course, quite possible that the novelty is not merely in the circumstances of the deliverance, but extends to all its results, among which is the Messianic kingdom—verily, a "new thing" (see Jeremiah 31:22). Now it shall spring forth; rather, already it is springing up (comp. Isaiah 42:9). Things, however, are more advanced (to the prophet's eye) than when that passage was written. Events are shaping themselves—the deliverance approaches. Shall ye not know it? rather, will ye not give heed to it? Will not the exiled people, whom Isaiah addresses, turn their thoughts this way, and let the idea of deliverance take possession of their minds, instead of brooding on past and present sufferings (see Isaiah 40:30; Isaiah 41:17; Isaiah 42:22)? God is about to make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. As he led his people out of their Egyptian bondage, first through the Red Sea, and then through a "howling wilderness" (Deuteronomy 32:10), so now he will "make a way" for them through a still more desolate tract. We are nowhere historically told by what route the Israelites ultimately returned. If they went by Tadmor and Damascus, they must have traversed a most arid and difficult desert. Even if they did not quit the Euphrates till they reached the latitude of Aleppo, still they must have had some wide tracts of wilderness to cross.

Isaiah 43:20

The beast of the field shall honour me. The animal creation shall, participate in the benefits of the "new thing" introduced by the restoration of Israel, and in their dumb way shall show their gratitude. The dragons and the owls. The recent mention of the desert causes animals of the desert (Isaiah 13:21, Isaiah 13:22) to be taken as examples. (On the animals intended, see the comment on Isaiah 34:13.) If even the beasts of the desert honoured God, much more would the rest of the animal creation (comp. Isaiah 11:6-8).

Isaiah 43:21

This people have I formed for myself (see above, Isaiah 43:7, and comp. Proverbs 16:4). They shall show forth my praise; i.e. their restoration to their own land shall cause them to glorify me both with songs of praise (for the fulfilment, see Ezra 3:9-11; Nehemiah 12:27; and the post-Captivity psalms), and also by a life in accordance with my laws.

Isaiah 43:22-28

A REPROACH ADDRESSED TO CAPTIVE ISRAEL FOR ITS PAST OMISSIONS AND SINS. The thought of Israel in the future, redeemed, restored, and "telling out God's praise" (Isaiah 43:21), raises naturally the con-trusted thought of Israel in the present and the past, disobedient, full of shortcomings (Isaiah 43:22-24), too often guilty of overt acts of sin (Isaiah 43:24-28). While reproaching his people, and reminding them that the exile is the wellmented punishment of their past offences (Isaiah 43:27, Isaiah 43:28), God still promises them pardon if they will appeal to his covenant of mercy (Isaiah 43:25, Isaiah 43:26).

Isaiah 43:22

But thou hast not called upon me. The Jews had never been greatly given to prayer. They were a "practical" people, active, energetic, hard-working, busily employed in handicrafts, commerce, or agriculture. David and Daniel, who prayed three times a day (Psalms 55:17; Daniel 6:10), were probably exceptions to the general rule. At any rate, it appears here that in the exile the nation had neglected prayer. No doubt there was a nucleus of "faithful men," who did as Daniel did. But with the mass it was otherwise. Hard toil occupied their time. Despair made dull their hearts. They looked for no alleviation of their lot, and lived on in a sort of apathy. But thou hast been weary of me; rather, for thou hast wearied of me. Thou hast left off praying, because thou wast weary of my service.

Isaiah 43:23

Thou hast not brought me the small cattle of thy burnt offerings. If this reproach is regarded as addressed to captive Israel, who could not offer sacrifices, we must explain it by the analogy of the expression, "the calves of your lips" (Hosea 14:2). All prayer may be regarded as a sort of offering, and withholding it as withholding sacrifice. But it is possible that the prophet is not addressing captive Israel only, but carrying his thoughts back to the period preceding the Captivity, when there was a general neglect of God's service, and for a time the temple was given up to idol-worship (2 Kings 21:3-7; 2 Kings 23:4-14). The glance back at earlier times is apparent in Isaiah 43:27, Isaiah 43:28. I have not caused thee to serve with an offering, etc.; rather, I put no heavy service on thee in respect of meat offering, neither made I thee to toil in respect of incense; i.e. "my positive requirements have been light—surely thou shouldst have complied with them." Meat offerings were to accompany every sacrifice, but were a small burthen. Incense was not required from any private person.

Isaiah 43:24

Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money. "Sweet cane" is mentioned in the Law only in connection with the "holy anointing oil" (Exodus 30:23). But the present passage raises a suspicion that it was practically used in the burnt offerings of private persons (see the next clause). That it was anciently used in Babylonia in sacrifice, appears from the Deluge Tablets. But thou hast made me to serve with thy sins. "The sins of Israel," as Delitzsch observes, "pressed upon Jehovah, as a burthen does upon a servant." This is a part of the fundamental idea running through the third part of Isaiah, closely connected with the mediatorial office of the "Servant of the Lord," who "bare the sin of many" (Isaiah 53:12), and on whom "the Lord laid the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6). Israel, both during the Captivity and before, had accumulated a heavy load of sin, not merely by negligence, but by overt acts of guilt (see Isaiah 1:4, Isaiah 1:15, Isaiah 1:21-23, etc.).

Isaiah 43:25

I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions (comp. Psalms 51:1, Psalms 51:9). The idea is based on that of sins being "noted in a book" (Psalms 56:8; Revelation 20:12). For mine own sake; i.e. purely from the love that I bare thee.

Isaiah 43:26

Put me in remembrance. Either, ironically, "Remind me of thy good deeds; plead thy cause with me on that ground; show the merits that justify thee;" or else seriously, "Remind me of my promises; plead them before me; declare them, that by my free grace I may justify thee." The latter is the more probable interpretation.

Isaiah 43:27

Thy first father hath sinned; rather, thy first father sinned; that is, "Thou hast no merits of thy own. Even thy first father, Abraham, sinned (Genesis 12:13, Genesis 12:18; Genesis 17:17; Genesis 20:2); and thy teachers have transgressed. Thy very priests and prophets have been full of imperfections—have often sinned against me. Much more hast thou, my people generally, committed grievous offences. Thou must therefore throw thyself on my mercy."

Isaiah 43:28

Therefore I have profaned the princes of the sanctuary. The "princes of the sanctuary" (literally, "princes of holiness") are the principal members of the priesthood, who were carried into captivity with the rest of the people (2 Kings 25:18), and deprived of their functions, as a part of the punishment due to Israel for its sins. Israel itself was at the same time given to the curse of a severe bondage and to the reproaches of the neighboring nation.


Isaiah 43:7

Man made for the glory of God.

The great end of all creation is God's glory. Not that this is to be understood in such sort as that God was moved to create by the desire of getting glory thereby, for nothing could enlarge or enhance that glory which he had from all eternity, before even the angels were brought into being. The motive of God's external working, if we may use the expression, was his goriness, or benevolence, which caused him to seek to communicate his own blessedness and happiness to others. But the law of his working was the exhibition of his glory. He so created all things that they should set this forth. From the lowest atom of dead inert matter, possessed of no qualities but substance and extension, to the highest crewed intelligence, endued with almost Divine attributes, every thing, as it issued from his hand, was so made as to show forth and proclaim his glorious and unapproachable majesty, power, and greatness. Hence the outburst of the psalmist, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. One day telleth another, and one night certifieth another" (Psalms 19:1, Psalms 19:2). Hence the call upon all things to "Praise the Lord, since his Name only is excellent, and his glory above heaven and earth" (Psalms 148:13). Hence the cry of the four and twenty elders in the heavenly place, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created' (Revelation 4:11). God's glory rosy he set forth

(1) unconsciously, or

(2) consciously-unconsciously,

as it is by the things that are devoid of intelligence," sun, and moon, and stars of light, heavens, and waters above the heavens, earth, sea, fire, hail, snow and vapours, stormy wind, mountains, hills, fruitful trees, cedars, beasts, and all cattle, creeping things, and flying fowl" (Psalms 148:3-10); consciously, as by the host of heaven, the angels of all grades (Psalms 148:2), and also by the children of men—"young men and maidens, old men and children, kings of the earth and all people, princes and all judges of the earth "(Psalms 148:10, Psalms 148:12). For the better setting forth of his glory, God "created man in his own image" (Genesis 1:27)—"created him, formed him, perfected him" (Isaiah 43:7). Then, when he had marred the image in which he was made, God redeemed him. Thus he is still able to set forth God's glory, and to do so is the end of his being. "Whether ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do," says the apostle, "do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31); and again, "Ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Corinthians 6:20).

Isaiah 43:8-11

Witnesses for God and against him.

On the side of God, witnesses for him, assertors of his existence, his unity, his omnipotence, his providential direction of human affairs, are—


1. It was the object of God, in calling the Israelites and tasking them his "peculiar people," to secure the result that he should not be "left without witness" (Acts 14:17). Monotheists from the first, the children of Israel stood up for ages a light in a dark world, giving a clear and unmistakable testimony for God, asserting him to be One, intelligent, possessed of will, the Creator of the world and of man, omnipotent, omniscient. "This august doctrine began with them; and they have been its witnesses and confessors, even to torture and death'. From the time of the old empire in Egypt to the present day, a uniform consistent witness has been borne by all orthodox Jews to these great and fundamental truths, the necessary bases of all true religion, the only safeguards for the continuance among men of law, order, or morality.

2. The Christian Church is at one on all these points with the Jewish Church, and bears the same testimony for God, only with additions to it. Christianity teaches that within the Unity of the Divine Substance there is a Trinity of Persons. Christianity maintains that the most essential attribute of the Divinity is love (1 John 4:8, 1 John 4:16). Christianity has much to tell of the Second and Third Persons of the Trinity, of which Judaism knows nothing. Thus, at the present day, it forms a second witness for God, and gives a wider, fuller, and deeper testimony.

II. THE LORD CHRIST HIMSELF. "Ye are my witnesses,and my Servant whom I have chosen" (Isaiah 43:10). The Lord Jesus witnessed for God in many ways; and his utterances, placed on record by the evangelists, are testimonies of inestimable value, infallibly declaring to us the true nature of God. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son" (John 3:16); "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved" (John 3:17); "God is true" (John 3:33); "God is a Spirit" (John 4:24); "The Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them" (John 5:21); "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him" (John 14:23); "Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my Name, he will give it you" (John 16:23). Or, to take another class of utterances, "God clotheth the grass of the field" (Matthew 6:30); God "sendeth his rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:45); "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work" (John 5:17). The witness of the Son to the Father is far beyond the witness of men, and is inexpressibly touching, being pervaded by a spirit of such tender love and reverence as we shall vainly seek for elsewhere.

III. THE FATHER IN HIS OWN PERSON. In the present chapter of Isaiah, Jehovah, while citing as witnesses the Jewish Church, and his Servant, i.e. Christ (verse 10), goes on to bear his own testimony to his own greatness and unapproachableness. "I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am Jehovah; and beside me there is no Saviour Yea, before the day was, I am he; there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who shall reverse it?" (verses 10-13). And does not the Father bear the same testimony to himself in the soul of each of us.? Is the general recognition of something high and holy external to us, "making for righteousness," anything but the Father speaking in us and bearing witness of himself in our heart of hearts? Has he not thus spoken always to all the teachable ones of his myriads upon myriads of human creatures, besides providing external testimony, making himself also an internal witness to his own Being?

Witnesses against God are, unfortunately, also many, as appears by the present passage. Among them may be mentioned—

I. THE IDOLATROUS, OR IN ANY WAY IRRELIGIOUS, NATIONS AND PEOPLES. Idolatry is either a negation of God or an utter misrepresentation and degradation of him. Polytheism is in a certain sense atheism, since a "god," limited and conditioned by a host of other gods, is in very truth no "God" at all. And the gods of idolaters had rarely such a character as enlightened Christians would willingly assign even to a low grade of angels. The "nations" of Isaiah's time, and of later ages, "because they did not like to retain God in their knowledge," had been given over by him to" a reprobate mind," and had lost the power of forming in their minds the conception of a pure, holy, all-perfect, spiritual existence. When such a conception was presented to them, they ]'ejected it, preferring their own familiar ideas of gods more nearly on a level with themselves to so transcendental a Being.

II. THE SCEPTICAL THINKERS AND PHILOSOPHERS EVERYWHERE. At all times there have been "fools" who have "said in their hearts," or even proclaimed to the world at large, "There is no God" (Psalms 14:1). Democritus, as early as b.c. 440, and Leucippus still earlier, taught that the universe had come into being without the help of a God, by evolution from lifeless and shameless matter. Practical atheism was as ancient in China as the time of Confucius. Soi-disant philosophers have been in every age among the most forward to witness against the Being from whom they derive their whole power to speak, think, or act. In the present day, atheism, though still bold and blatant in some places, for the most part bates its breath, and modestly shrouds itself under the agnostic veil.

III. THE PRACTICALLY IRRELIGIOUS AMONG THE NOMINAL SERVANTS OF GOD. The witnesses against God whose testimony is most dishonouring to him, and at the same time most injurious to mankind, are the unworthy professors of belief in him. To confess God with the lips while denying him in the life, is to do him the greatest disservice that is possible. It is to cast a doubt upon the value of all the human testimony borne in his favour, since who shall say how much of it is insincere? It is to insult God by a mock acknowledgment, a lip-service, in which the heart has no part. It is to admit his claim to allegiance and to cast off our allegiance in the same breath. The Christian religion would, it is probable, have, long ere this, overspread the world, had it not been for the vicious lives of professing Christians. The testimony of their acts takes away all its force from the testimony of their words, and changes them from witnesses for God into most persuasive witnesses against him.

Isaiah 43:16-21

Three deliverances.

In the past, Israel had had one great and unparalleled deliverance, that, namely—

I. FROM THE POWER OF EGYPT. With a "mighty hand and a stretched-out arm" God had saved them from the miserable fate of being bondservants, bound to task-work, and compelled to labour under the lash. He had effected their deliverance by a series of miracles, culminating in the death of the firstborn, and the passage of the Red Sea, whereby it might have been hoped that the nation would have been so impressed as to turn heartily to God, and become "a praise upon earth." But the result had not followed. Even in the wilderness they had set up idols (Exodus 32:1-20; Acts 7:43). In the Holy Land they had gone from bad to worse, "walked in the statutes of the heathen; built them high places in all their cities, set them up images and groves, wrought wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger, hardened their hearts, followed vanity and become vain" (2 Kings 17:8-15); "transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen, polluted the house of the Lord, mocked his messengers, and misused his prophets" (2 Chronicles 36:14-16); "shed innocent blood, which the Lord would not pardon" (2 Kings 24:4); and thus rendered their first deliverance of no avail, since it was an outward deliverance only from an earthly oppressor, and not an inward deliverance from the bondage of sin. Now Israel is promised in the future a second and a third deliverance—

II. FROM THE OPPRESSION OF BABYLON. God will once more show forth his power, will chastise Babylon by the sword of Cyrus, will cause Cyrus to "perform all his pleasure" (Isaiah 44:28), will bring his people from the four winds of heaven (Isaiah 43:5, Isaiah 43:6) and plant them again in their own land (Isaiah 51:11). "The ransomed of the Lord will return, and come to Zion." This deliverance is, so far, a sort of duplicate of the deliverance from Egypt, only that it is effected by new means, without miracle, by God's ordinary and secret action on the course of human affairs.

III. FROM THE TYRANNY OF SIN. The second deliverance is to lead on to the third. Israel, redeemed from Babylon, and replanted in its own laud, is to "show forth God's praise" (Isaiah 43:21). The unimpressible people is to be, to a certain extent, impressed. In point of fact, after the return to Palestine idolatry disappeared. The pest-Captivity Jews were faithful to Jehovah. Though not free from certain minor sins (Ezra 9:1; Nehemiah 13:1-25; Malachi 1:7-14; Malachi 2:8-17; Malachi 3:8-15), they were never apostates. In the Maccabaean times large numbers showed a noble contempt for death, and were martyrs and confessors for the truth. When our Lord came, there was still a sound and healthy element in the nation. He was able to gather to himself a "little flock." The "little flock" expanded, and became the nucleus of the Christian Church. This Church, holy by its calling, holy by its profession, holy by the sanctified lives of so many of its members, is but an enlargement of that early "flock." Thus the final deliverance—begun here, but not to be completed till the consummation of all things—is a deliverance from sin. The final "Israel of God" will be "a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing" (Ephesians 5:27).

Isaiah 43:22-28

The folly of self-justification before God.

Self-justification, addressed by man to God, is doubly foolish—

I. AS HAVING NO BASIS IN TRUTH, AND THEREFORE EASILY CONFUTED. There is no fact more certain, whether we accept the statements of Scripture as authoritative, or pin our faith on our own observation and experience, than that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Each man is conscious to himself of sin, and no one claims perfection for his neighbours. The greatest saints, both of the Old Testament and the New, have shortcomings, defects, fall into actual sins. One alone is depicted without sin, and he was more than man. Human biographies are in accord. No one, whatever his admiration for his hero, claims that he was perfect. All accept the notion that the best man is simply the one who has fewest faults.

II. As EXCLUDING MAN FROM THE ONLY JUSTIFICATION POSSIBLE TO HIM. God will not justify the self-righteous. He forgives those only who ask his forgiveness. Pride is a barrier which shuts men out from him, and places them on a par with the fallen angels, "to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness fee ever" (Jud Isaiah 1:13). God "justifies the sinner" (Romans 4:5), but only the sinner who confesses his sin and begs for pardon. If we "go about to establish our own righteousness, and do not submit ourselves to the righteousness of God," we exclude ourselves from God's covenant of salvation, which is made with the humble, the contrite, the self-abased, the penitent. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins" (1 John 1:9).


Isaiah 43:1-7

The love of Jehovah to Israel.

"But now." The word itself hints yearning affection. There has been a conflict between Divine love and Divine wrath, and the former has gained the victory. In fact, the wrath of Jehovah was but grieved affection. Its force is now for the time spent. He will now deliver and protect, reassemble and restore his people (Cheyne).

I. IT IS THE LOVE OF A PARENT. "Thy Creator, O Jacob; he that formed thee, O Israel." Of all the works of God, confessedly the noblest is man; and if man is only known as forming nations, these too are the works of God. And Israel especially is the embodied thought of God, in her laws and institutions, her place and mission in the world. Or, if we think of Israel as gradually fashioned, by schooling and by affliction, into a "new and singular product," not less is she endeared to her Maker and Builder. We cannot but love our children; and scarcely less dear to us are the children of our brain and of our heart—our schemes, our books; the house whose structure we have planned, whose arrangements have been made after ideas of our own; the flock we have overseen; the little body of disciples or friends whom we have made an organization for the diffusion of our views of life. That delight we feel in the reflected image of our mind in what is not ourself, we transfer by analogy to God.

II. IT IS THE LOVE OF A REDEEMER. And this implies sacrifice, love proved by expense of some sort. The tense gives a reference to history and to prophecy—past and future. No price can be too high for the ransom of Israel: other nations will be given up—Egypt, Ethiopia, and Seba—for her. Cambyses, son of Cyrus, conquered Egypt and invaded Ethiopia. The Persian was destined to set free the chosen People; and those other peoples given into his hand as compensation are the ransom price for delivered Israel. If the "wicked are a ransom for the righteous" (Proverbs 21:18), if the sufferings of the evil are in some way connected with the deliverance of the good,—this helps to shed a consoling light upon many a dark page of human history. But not only the suffering of the evil may be thus viewed—the suffering of the good also, in the light of the great saying, "The Son of man came … to give his life a ransom for many"—for the greater or spiritual Israel in all ages.

III. IT IS AN APPROPRIATING, SPECIALIZING, HONOURING LOVE. TO "call by name" is an expressive phrase for selection and election. So was Bezaleel the artist called in connection with the tabernacle-work (Exodus 31:2); so was Moses called by name (Exodus 33:12, Exodus 33:17) and designated for his work. It is to "find grace" in the eyes of God; it is to be precious and honourable in his sight. It is to be a "peculiar treasure" (Exodus 19:5, Exodus 19:6), a property of the Eternal—"mine art thou." We are led into the heart of the covenant-relation by these words. And every association of affection and good which has belonged in the thought of the world to the spiritual bond which knits soul to soul, may be used to illustrate Israel's relation to her God—that of child to parent, of client to patron, of confidential servant to lord, of soul to guardian spirit or angel, may be thought of in this connection. What is true of the nation must be true of its individuals; what holds good of the Church must be valid for the life of each Christian.

IV. IT IS AN ALL-PROTECTING LOVE. Israel shall go through water and through fire unhurt. No stronger figure could be used for safety amidst calamity (cf. Psalms 66:12; Daniel 3:17 :27). We may think of the salvation of Israel from the waves of the Red Sea, of the three children in the furnace at Babylon, of the ever-consuming yet never-consumed bush seen by Moses. These things are parables of the indestructibility of the spiritual life in mankind, and of the perfect integrity of the empire of souls, ruled by the redeeming God. From the east and the west and the north and the south, these scattered souls are to be gathered to their home. Impossible to limit such words to any temporal reference merely. The bounds of time fade away as we listen; and there rises before us the inspiring picture of the world as one vast scene of trial, of education, of an elect people to eternity—in which many sons are being brought to glory, that glory the reflection of God upon their renewed spirits.—J.

Isaiah 43:8-13

The great controversy.

The challenge of Isaiah 41:1-29. is renewed, and Jehovah's claims are contrasted with those of the false gods.

I. ASSEMBLING OF THE NATIONS. Israel is first brought forth by the ministers of justice. The people were once blind and deaf, but now are in possession of their faculties. And then, over against this small company of the faithful, the vast host of the heathen appears. And the challenge is issued—What god of the nations can produce predictions such as those in Isaiah 41:1-7? If this can be done, let them name former things—appeal to past events correctly foretold, and establish this by testimony. But the appeal is met by silence, by impotence. There are no witnesses forthcoming. And so once more idol-power is convicted and exposed as being "nothing in the world."

II. THE WITNESS TO JEHOVAH Israel is now called upon. She has known again and again the power of Jehovah to foresee and foretell the future. Let their faith, then, be wholly given to him—a faith founded on evidence, a faith rooted in intelligence. This faith cleaves to Jehovah as the Eternal. He is both before and after all created things. These idols have been the objects of an illusory worship—formed and fashioned things. Their power breaks with the decay of the nations of whom they have been the imagined patrons. In the hour of adversity they have seemed, like Baal, asleep or gone on a journey—have lifted no arm to save. Jehovah remains the sole able God, the exclusive Deliverer. No "stranger," no foreign God had power for good or evil in Israel. To this test of ability to meet the wants of the times, true and false religions must ultimately be brought. The doctrine or the institution which visibly is saving men from evil, emancipating them from bondage to vice, must have a Divine element in it. And Christianity seems to need no other apology than the witness of what it has done and is doing to purify, save, and bless mankind.

III. His IRREVERSIBLE WORK. "I work, and who can turn it back?" Messengers of his vengeance have been sent to Babylonia, and all the mixed multitude will be brought down into their proud ships, hopelessly overwhelmed. The great deliverance from Egypt—eternally monumental of Jehovah's power to deliver—shall itself be surpassed by the coming deliverance of Israel from the recesses of the earth. It is seen already "shooting forth," and a blissful picture of the future, peaceful, abundant, victorious over savagery, closes the representation.

1. God is Eternal.

2. He is unchangeably the same. And this is the sure foundation of the security of his people. None can trust a fickle and a vacillating being.

3. He can deliver his people from all enemies, amidst every variety of circumstances.

4. None—whether man, demon, or god—can resist him. Opposition to him is both wicked and vain. The condition of happiness is to comply with his plans, and become servants in the furtherance of his designs.—J.

Isaiah 43:22-28

Memories of exile.

I. THE FAITHLESSNESS OF THE PEOPLE. They have forgotten the covenant of their God. They have neglected one of its first duties—prayer, which marks dependence; or they had prayed to other gods; or their prayers had been merely ritual and formal. And this was the less excusable as the burden of sacrifices had not laid upon them during the exile.

II. THE MINDFUL MERCY OF JEHOVAH. He promises to blot out their sins; and this simply for his own sake. God can swear by none mightier; he can appeal to no principle that is higher than himself. He must be true first and above all to his nature; and next to that covenant which is the expression of his nature and of his relations to the people. Let them remember that; let them remind God of his promises, and he will not fail to respond. Although their ancestors had sinned; their leaders, the prophets and the priests and the princes, had rebelled against him, and had by him been rejected;—the people are still dear to him, and must remain so while Jehovah remains Jehovah. For he is the Eternal; he changes not. Though he punishes, he will not destroy; in the midst of wrath he remembers mercy; and holds fast to the set counsels of his love, from generation to generation, despite all the fickleness of man's fancies, opinions, and inclinations. Their endeavours to overcome his good by their evil shall be met by his mightier will to overcome their evil by his long-suffering.—J.


Isaiah 43:2

God, in trouble.

"When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee: and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee." When. Then it is certain that such experiences will come. It is only a question of time. Tribulation is common to all the children. "The same sufferings," says the apostle, "are accomplished in your brethren which are in the world." When? We do not always know when the desolating floods of life are coming, but presently they will rise to our breast and to our throat—deep waters.

I. TRIBULATION DOES NOT DESTROY PROGRESS. We pass through these waters; they are part of the way in which the Lord our God is leading us. "Ever onward" is our motto. We are "a day's march nearer home," even in the days of desolation and distress. We need not hope to escape the waters. No detour will take us out of the way of the floods.

II. TRIBULATION BRINGS CHRIST NEAR. "I will be with thee." A brief sentence. But it is enough. We have but to study the little word "I" It speaks of One who has all power in heaven and in earth; One who is human and Divine. A presence—that is what we want. Theologians talk of a "real presence." How can a presence be unreal? We do not talk of real sunlight, or real bread, or real air! This is the presence of One who understands all, and whose infinite pity accompanies the infinite peace.

III. TRIBULATION DOES NOT DESTROY. "The rivers, they shall not overflow thee." It is life the Saviour seeks for us, not death. Neither faith nor hope shall be destroyed. And if these waterfloods be death—which they are so often taken to mean—then they do not destroy. No; we pass through them to the laud beyond.—W.M.S.


Isaiah 43:1

The supreme claim and the sure stay.

So far from having nothing to do with us as individual spirits, we may say that God has everything to do with us. On the one hand, he makes a very great claim upon us; and on the other hand, he holds out very great hopes to us.

I. THE SUPREME CLAIM. To every human soul, as to Israel of old, God says, "Thou art mine." He requires of us that we shall consider ourselves as belonging to him; so that he may employ us in his service, may direct our will, may command our affection, may control our life. God does not claim to own us in the sense of being at liberty to act arbitrarily and capriciously towards us, but in the sense of being free to rule our souls and fashion our lives according to the dictates of righteousness and wisdom. His claim rests on his fourfold relation to us.

1. His creation of our spirits. "The Lord that created thee" (Isaiah 43:1; and see Isaiah 43:7, Isaiah 43:15). If we could make an estimate of our comparative obligations, how much should we consider that we owed to him that brought us out of nothing into being, that made us living souls, that endowed us with all the immeasurable capacities that are enfolded in an immortal spirit? How large a claim has God upon our thoughts, our gratitude, our service, in virtue of the fact that to his creative power we owe it that we are?

2. His shaping of our life. God has "formed us." He who formed Israel by all his providential dealings with that nation from the beginning is the God who has built up our life (see Hebrews 3:4). Our human relationships, our bodily health and strength, out' circumstances of comfort and joy, our mental strength and acquirements,—all this is the product of that shaping hand which "forms" the destinies of men as it gives figure to the foliage, arrests the tide, or determines the courses of the stars.

3. His redemption of our soul. "I have redeemed thee." God might well claim to be Israel's Redeemer, for he had mercifully and mightily interposed on its behalf. But with how much greater reason may he claim to be our Redeemer! How much greater is that "great salvation" by which he "saves his people from their sin," than that deliverance by which he rescued a people from political bondage or military disaster! The surpassing strength of this claim upon us is seen

(1) in that it is a redemption from the very worst spiritual evils to spiritual power and freedom; and

(2) in that it was wrought at such a priceless cost (1 Peter 1:18, 1 Peter 1:19).

4. His personal interest in every one of us. "I have called thee by thy name." The distinct and especial interest which Jehovah took in Israel has its counterpart in the individual interest he takes in each one of his children. Christ has led us to feel that he follows the course of every human spirit with a parental yearning, with a Saviour's restorative purpose and hope. He calls us by our name. To each wandering, backsliding soul he is saying, "Return unto me." To each striving, inquiring spirit he is saying, "Be of good cheer; I will help thee." To each faithful workman he is saying, "Toil on; I will come with a recompense" (Isaiah 35:4).

II. THE SURE STAY. "Fear not." There are many comforters who approach us and whisper these two words in our ear. Some of these are delusive, and others are imperfect and ineffectual. It may be an ill-grounded complacency, or it may be favourable surroundings, or it may be-human friendship; but the house of our hope, thus built upon the sand, may fall at any hour. If we would build our confidence upon the rock, we must rest on the promised stay of a reconciled heavenly Father, on the assured aid of an Almighty Friend, on the certain succour of a Divine Comforter. Having returned unto the living God, resting and abiding in Jesus Christ, we may go forth to any future, however threatening it may be; for One is present with us in whose company we may gladly enter the darkest shadows. And if we listen we may hear a voice, whose tones we may trust in the wildest storm, saying, "Fear not: for I have redeemed thee."—C.

Isaiah 43:2

Succor in sorrow.

It is bad indeed for us when our best friends become our worst enemies. Fire and water are two of our best friends so long as we have them under control: they warm, cleanse, nourish, fertilize, convey. But when they gain the mastery' over us they overturn and. consume, they injure and destroy both property and life; they thus become striking illustrations as well as fruitful sources of trial and distress.

I. THE GREATER AFFLICTIONS OF HUMAN LIFE. The terms of the text point to the larger rather than the lesser troubles through which we pass; though even the vexations and annoyances to which we are daily subject are experiences in which we need to summon our higher principles if we would act rightly and live acceptably to God our Saviour. But it is the sterner sorrows, the more serious calamities, which most imperatively demand all the resources at our command. We pass through the waters, we walk through the fire:

1. When heavy losses reduce our possessions and make us face narrowness of means, hard toil, or dependence on the charity of men.

2. When grievous disappointment overtakes us, extinguishing the bright hopes by which our path had been lighted and our hearts had been animated and sustained.

3. When sickness assails us, and our strength fails, and we lie long on the couch of helplessness or pain.

4. When bereavement throws its dark shadow on our homeward way.

5. When the failure of those from whom we looked for good or even great things sends a pang through our soul.

II. THE TRUE REFUGE OF THE SORROWFUL. "God is our Refuge … a very present Help in trouble." He is "the Lord our God our Saviour." We may count on:

1. His sympathizing presence. "I will be with thee." Our Divine Friend will be with us, so that we shall be able to feel that he is looking upon us with tender and pitiful regard.

2. His limiting power. The rivers may rise high, but they shall "not overflow" the man whom God is befriending. His hand is on the adverse forces which oppress us, and there is a mark beyond which he will see that they do not come.

3. His sustaining grace. The fire may rage around his children, but such will be the resisting strength within that they "will not be burned." Their faith and love will not fail; they will triumph, in spirit, over the worst distresses.

III. THE CONDITIONS WHICH GOD REQUIRES. It is not every man, however he may stand with the Supreme, who may confidently count on this Divine succour. There must be:

1. Acceptance with God. God must be our God; Jesus Christ our Saviour; his service our portion. God makes no such promise as this to those who stand stubbornly aloof in waywardness or rebelliousness of spirit. It is his children who have a place of refuge (Proverbs 14:26). There must be also:

2. Submission of heart to his will.

3. Appeal for his help. "Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee," etc. (Psalms 50:15).—C.

Isaiah 43:3-7

The goodness of God to man.

The abounding grace of God to the children of men is brought out very strikingly here. It is seen in—

I. THE HIGH PURPOSE FOR WHICH HE CREATES US. "I have created him for my glory." There is no end so lofty in itself and so elevating in its influence for which God could have made mankind as this. It is for this, primarily, that the very highest intelligences in the heavenly spheres have their being.

II. THE PROFOUND INTEREST HE TAKES IN US. "Thou wast precious in my sight I have loved thee." God regards the children of men (Psalms 33:13, Psalms 33:14). He attends to their requests, and meets their wants (Psalms 145:15, Psalms 145:19). He pities them in their griefs (Psalms 103:8). He yearns over them with parental love (see Isa 31:1-9 :20; 2 Peter 3:9). He disciplines them with parental solicitude (Hebrews 12:5-11).

III. THE HONOUR WHICH HE CONFERS UPON US. "Thou hast been honourable." In Christ Jesus we are honoured in many ways. We are "made priests and kings unto God." What manner of honour as well as of love the Father hath shown us, that we should be called the sons of God; and that we should also be made his heirs, and also "labourers together with him" (1 Corinthians 3:9)!

IV. THE SACRIFICIAL MEANS HE EMPLOYS ON OUR BEHALF. "I gave Egypt for thy ransom … I will give men for thee." That which is of immeasurably greater value than gold or silver, than property of any kind—men, human lives, God would give for Israel. For us he has given that which is of far greater account than any nation or any multitude of men—his own well-beloved Son: "God so loved the world," etc.; "He spared not his own Son;" "He gave himself" for us.

V. HIS PURPOSE TO GATHER HIS CHILDREN TOGETHER to one place of rest and joy (Isaiah 43:5, Isaiah 43:6).—C.

Isaiah 43:10

The witness of God's servants.

"Ye are my witnesses." God summoned his people Israel to bear witness to him; he challenged them to come forward and testify that

(1) in the absence of any possible power that could have performed it (Isaiah 43:12),

(2) he had foretold things which were far in the future; and

(3) he had wrought signal and splendid deliverances on their behalf,—he had "saved" as well as declared (Isaiah 43:12). Thus they were in a position to maintain that

(4) he was the One living God on whom the wise would depend for guidance and redemption (Isaiah 43:10, Isaiah 43:11). His charge to his Church is similar. God demands that we shall bear witness to him and to his gospel of grace. To this end are we born, and for this cause came we into the world, that we should "bear witness unto the truth." Concerning this testimony, we are left in no doubt as to—

I. THOSE WHO ARE TO BEAR IT. We know who they are to whom God says," Ye are," etc. They are those who have themselves returned unto him in true penitence and faith. All others are unsuited by their character and their spirit (see Psalms 50:16; Psalms 51:12, Psalms 51:13; Romans 2:21; Isaiah 52:11). Only they who are in sympathy with God and are living in accordance with his holy will are qualified to bear witness to his truth.

II. THE SUBSTANCE OF THEIR MESSAGE. The first and greatest thing which men need to know is the nature and character of God. For it is the relation which they maintain towards him that determines their own character and destiny. Apart from him they are separated from the source of all true blessedness, of all real life. In him and with him they are safe, wise, rich, for evermore. We have, therefore, to testify of him:

(1) of his unity (Isaiah 43:10);

(2) his holiness;

(3) his redeeming love (Isaiah 43:11). We have to bear witness

(4) to the unique efficacy of his salvation; that there is no Saviour beside him; that there is "no other Name by which we can be saved." And also

(5) to the conditions under which alone this salvation can be secured. Like St. Paul, to Greek and Jew, to cultivated and uncultivated, to those who esteem themselves to be righteous and to those who know themselves to be sinners, we have to testify "repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."

III. THE EXPERIENCE WHICH JUSTIFIES THEIR EVIDENCE. They have experienced that which amply warrants them in commending the gospel of the grace of God.

1. A profound sense of true deliverance. Their own consciousness makes it clear and positive that they have been rescued from the tyranny, the depravity, and the burden of sin, and led into the liberty, the purity, and the joy of sonship.

2. Peace and hope in regard to the future. God has revealed to them a home of rest and love—a future state where the highest and noblest aspirations of redeemed humanity will find fulfilment. In sure prospect of this they are in a position to speak freely in the presence of those who live without God and die without hope.—C.

Isaiah 43:22-25

Righteousness, guilt, mercy.

We notice here—

I. THE REASONABLENESS OF GOD'S SERVICE. "I have not caused thee to serve with an offering, nor wearied thee with incense." God's service is not a servitude, a slavery; nor is it a burdensome task, hard and heavy to be borne. Under the Mosaic Law, special provision was made for the poor, so that the sacrifices asked of them should be within their reach (Le Isaiah 5:7; Isa 12:1-6 :8; Isaiah 14:21). Women and children were excepted from certain requirements, because of their sex or their years. Various exemptions were allowed in the spirit of considerateness. There was nothing hard, rigorous, ungracious, in the Law. Nor is there in the Divine demands now made upon us. God desires—indeed, he requires of us—that we should yield to him our thought, our remembrance, our worship,—regular, willing, spiritual; our love, our filial affection; our obedience to his precepts; our submission to his will. But there is nothing arbitrary or capricious about this demand; it is only that which grows, naturally and even necessarily, out of the intimate relation in which God stands to us and we to him. What is there less than this that we could rightly render to our Creator, our Sustainer, our bountiful Benefactor, our Father, our Redeemer? And in everything God makes full allowance for all our weakness and incapacity. He expects of us according to that which he has entrusted to us. From those to whom much is given, much will be required, etc. (see 2 Corinthians 8:12). From the very rich God will look for the talents of gold; from the very poor, small pieces of copper; from the strong man, his strength; from the weak man, his weakness.

II. THE SERIOUSNESS AND THE HEINOUSNESS OF HUMAN SIN. The Divine complaint is against us all, that we have:

1. Withheld from him what is due to him. We have "not called upon" him; for we have been "weary of him." We have not brought him even our smaller offerings; we have not honoured him, as we might and should have done, in his courts. And this shortcoming is only a small part of all our sin of omission. We have all failed to render him the glory due to his Name, the reverence and the affection due to himself, the obedience and the service due to his will and to his cause. It is also against many that they have:

2. Added aggravating offences to their shortcoming; "served him with sins," "wearied him with iniquities." Many have not only refused their worship, but they have flagrantly and heinously broken his commandments; have multiplied their iniquities, and made him to write down the most grievous and shameful transgressions in his book against them.

III. THE FULNESS AND FREENESS OF THE DIVINE MERCY. (Isaiah 43:25.) For his own sake, not compelled thereto by anything which they had done or should do, but impelled by his abounding and overflowing grace, he would "blot out their transgressions" from his book of remembrance. God's pardoning love to us, revealed in the gospel:

1. Is large and free.

(1) He forgives the most flagrant offences.

(2) He receives those who have been longest in rebellion against his rule, and have most pertinaciously resisted his overtures.

(3) He takes back those whom he forgives into his full favour and treats them with unstinted kindness (Luke 15:1-32.).

2. Is granted of his own grace, and for the sake of his own Son our Savior.

3. Is conditional on our repentance and faith.—C.


Isaiah 43:1

Personal relations with God.

"Thou art mine." In the East, to call a person by name is a mark of an individualizing tenderness. But so it is in all lands. Those who are in close personal relations with us we call by their Christian names; we even give them a new pet name; and they love that name, because it is a sign to them of the close connection in which they stand to us. God tried to keep this sense of personal relation ever before the people of Israel, and so to keep them assured of the living interest he had in all their concerns. Wherever they might be, and whatever might be their surroundings, this might give them perfect peace—they were his. And when Jesus Christ would make a great impression on his disciples of his personal regard for them, he said, "Henceforth I call you not servants … but I have called you friends."

1. Such relations are indeed involved in the fact that we are the creatures of God. "He made us, and not we ourselves." He has the interest in us which we feel—in measure—in the work of our hands. He has great thoughts and purposes concerning us, and he is graciously concerned in their realization.

2. Such relations are further seen in his entering into covenant with a particular people. He drew them into a special intimacy; committed to them an unusual trust; made them depositaries, and by-and-by witnesses, of certain foundation-truths; and for generations guarded them while they guarded these truths. The closeness of relations between God and Israel is the basis of Hosea's exquisitely tender pleadings, the dearest and nearest human relations, of husband and wife, of parent and child, being used to bring home God's appeals (see Hosea 2:1-23; etc.). We direct attention to the practical side of this subject. If we are the Lord's, we—

I. ENJOY HIS FRIENDSHIP. Illustrate from Abraham, the friend of God, El-Khalil; or from Enoch, who "walked with God." To friendship is necessary:

1. Community of sentiment. "How can two walk together except they be agreed?"

2. Mutual trust. The grace unspeakable is that God should trust us. Our failure and sin is that we so half-heartedly trust him.

3. Frequent intercourse. Nothing blights friendship like separation. Keeping friendly means keeping together.

4. Jealousy of each other's honour. Here we come short, sadly short, in our friendship with God.

II. RENDER HIM SERVICE. Friends love to serve one another. In this friendship with God we should not forget that we have to take a dependent place. His is a condescending friendship, and our response to it finds best expression in loving obedience. All hardness is taken out of service when it is the expression of such near and loving relations as those unto which God has brought us.—R.T.

Isaiah 43:2

Safety for the soul in times of trouble.

The first figure in this verse is a very familiar one; the second needs such explanations as are given by writers on Eastern customs. It seems that the setting of the grass and undergrowth on fire, in the East, was commonly practised to annoy enemies, and it sometimes occasioned great terror and distress. Hawkesworth relates that the wild inhabitants of New South Wales endeavoured to destroy some tents and stores belonging to Captain Cook's ship, when he was repairing it, by setting fire to the long grass of that country. This passage has been treasured up by suffering people in all ages, as a hymn is treasured which has suggestive figures (e.g. "Rock of ages, cleft for me"). The strength, the almost extravagance, of the poetical figures, are found specially helpful in meditative moods. From this assurance we note three things.

I. GOD DOES NOT REMOVE OUR TROUBLES. If the providences bring round to us a "passing through the waters," or a "walking through the fires," special grace will not prevent us or change our allotment or our circumstances. Through the waters and the fires we have to go. There were such reasons for the captivity of Israel, that special grace would not interfere with the chastisement. St. Paul may pray to have his affliction removed, but the prayer could not be answered.

II. GOD ASSURES HIS PRESENCE IN THE TROUBLE. And it is easier to bear when two are under the load, and One has "everlasting strength." God's presence in the fires may be illustrated by the fourth form which stood beside the Hebrew youths in the fiery furnace. God's presence in the waters, by the following incident. When the steamship Massachusetts was wrecked in Long Island Sound, there were two mothers, each with a child, who were noticeable for their respectful calmness during the hours of greatest peril and anxiety, when it seemed as if the vessel must shortly go to pieces. A passenger from Philadelphia says that his attention was first called to them by their voices in singing. Going towards them, he found a little boy standing there with his life-preserver on, and the little fellow was just joining with his mother in singing a hymn of trust and confidence. And when rescue came, and the passengers were safely on another vessel, those same sweet voices were again heard, this time in a ringing strain of praise for their deliverance.

III. GOD KEEPS THE TROUBLE WITHIN CAREFUL LIMITATIONS. His concern is about those who have to suffer, not about the trouble, or the circumstances that make the trouble. It may reach our circumstances; it may even reach our bodies; but God says, "No further." Job was ruined; Job was diseased; but God's hedge was round Job himself, and nobody and nothing could touch him. Waters nor fires can ever reach us, to injure or destroy the life in us which God has quickened.—R.T.

Isaiah 43:3

God the Savior.

"I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour." As we know God, he is a Triune Being—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and Scripture traces the whole work of salvation to God thus apprehended. Salvation is not the work of one Person of the Trinity, but the work of the whole personality of God. This is the truth which may be unfolded from the expression in this text.

I. SALVATION IS THE WORK OF THE DIVINE TRINITY. This is variously taught in Holy Scripture, but the most complete and precise expression of the truth may be found in Titus 3:4-6, which Conybeare and Howson render thus: "But when God our Saviour made manifest his kindness and love of men, he saved us, not through the works of righteousness which we had done, but according to his own mercy, by the laver of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, which he richly poured forth upon us, by Jesus Christ our Saviour." The love of God appeared. The regenerations and renewings are by the Holy Spirit. And that Divine Spirit is shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ. God is our Saviour. Jesus Christ is our Saviour. The Holy Ghost is our Saviour. And yet we have not three Saviours, but one Saviour. Young Christians, in the earlier stages of religious apprehension, are wont to grasp firmly the one truth—Jesus is the Saviour. Many Christian people grow old in experience without coming to realize that this is a central truth, which has another truth on each side of it. On one side this truth—God is. the Saviour. On the other side—the Holy Ghost is the Saviour. Jesus Christ is declared to be God "manifest in the flesh;" God the Father manifest, so that we may apprehend him; and God the Holy Ghost manifest, so that we may realize his gracious inworkings. We know God the Father and God the Holy Ghost through Christ, the manifested Son. Such enlarging of our thought to embrace the full Divine agency in our redemption involves no kind of dishonour to the Lord Jesus. In his part and sphere he is the only One, the only "Name." As the Manifester and Mediator, he stands alone. His sphere is manes earthly life; he is God with us. He shares our humanity; bears a human name; lives through a human, lot; perfects an obedience in the flesh; endures the final testing of a painful and ignominious human death; and in his redemptive work in the human spheres he has none to share with him. When we speak of separate Persons in the Divine Trinity, we must apprehend the most absolute unity of purpose in them; and the differences of operation which we can trace are simply gracious modes of reaching men so as to be a perfect redemptive power on them. The Father-God, in his Divine fatherly love, initiates the redemptive purpose, and forms, in his infinite wisdom, the redemptive plan. God the Son executes that part of the Divine plan which required manifestation in man's earthly sphere—in the sphere of the senses. God the Spirit is entrusted with that part of the Divine plan which concerned man's inward state—the renewal of his mind and feeling and will.

II. THE ONE FOUNTAIN AND SOURCE OF OUR SALVATION, WHATEVER ITS FORM OR ITS AGENCY MAY BE, IS THE DIVINE LOVE. "We are saved by grace." We too often speak of the "mercy" of God, as if it were only an attribute belonging to him. Nay, it is far better than an attribute—it is God: "God is love." But when that love gains expression in man's sphere, so that we may apprehend it, we find it is working out a marvellous purpose, even the full redemption of a sinful race; and we see it in the blessed life of the redeeming Son and in the inward grace of the renewing Spirit. But all is of God. All is of free, sovereign, unbought, unconstrained, unmerited love. He saved us. He sent the Son. He sheds the Spirit. It is our Father in heaven whose fatherly love pitied us, yearned for us, and found the gracious ways in which to bring the prodigals home, and to make the prodigals sons again. It is the "grace of God that bringeth salvation." We may have laid hold of the truth that Christ for us is the Gift of grace. It may be that we need to gain firm hold of that other and answering truth, that the Holy Ghost in us is the Provision of grace. We want more than the doctrine concerning these high things. We want a living impression, which gives to them practical and persuasive power on our hearts. When we can really feel that our salvation is throughout, from beginning to ending, from predestination to calling, from calling to justification, from justification to sanctification, and right through to glorification, wholly of grace, then the last lingering confidence in our own doings will pass right away, and we shall rejoice altogether in "God our Saviour."—R.T.

Isaiah 43:14

God the Redeemer.

Proof of the existence of God is not the proper subject of a revelation made to man in a book. The being of God is assumed by making a revelation in a book. The proper subject of a book-revelation is not God creating. That we might learn from the things created. Not God providing. That we could sufficiently understand by due observation of life. Not God ruling. That would be impressed upon us with ever-increasing force by the history of the ages as they accumulated. The great subject of a book revelation must be God redeeming. That we could not learn from the perfect order of creation. That we could not reach by the keenest observations of his providence. That is not traced upon human history save as the deeper, hidden lines which we need some key to decipher. With that our Scriptures are full. That must be told in human language, and shown in human signs. No researches of science will declare it; no natural relations of men involve it; no creature is commissioned to show it forth. No inquiry of the human mind can reach it. God the Redeemer. This is the unknown mystery—unknown till God himself declares it. Too glorious to be received by men until it is seen proved over and over again, and at last gets its most melting display in that cross whereon God's beloved Son dies in agony, for the glorifying for ever of the redeeming love of God. The Scriptures may have side information on matters of creation, providence, science, government, and duty; but these are not its great message. Creation is God's first work; redemption is his second and greater, called for by the world's confusion and man's moral ruin. That second thought God could tell to man in no other way than by words; only words could reveal the deep fact of the pitying love of God, which the heart, not the head, of man alone can grasp. The heart wants to be spoken to with human words.

I. REDEMPTION IS GOD'S CONSTANT WORK. Our Bible is full of it. It is the prominent thing on every page. Clouds of curse and woe hang heavy over the very first page of human history. The darkness of Divine indignations drops down on man and woman and tempting serpent. But right across the great thunder-clouds God threw a brilliant rainbow of promise. In symbol it said, "Redemption is coming." In words it read thus: "The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head." Abraham stands forth the head of a new race. Behold a man redeemed from Chaldean idolatries, redeemed unto God. A mystery hangs round the second patriarch, Isaac. Behold a sacrifice redeemed by God, through the substitution of the ram caught in the thicket! Jacob reads his life, and sees everywhere the "angel who redeemed him from all evil." The national life of the Jewish people started in a glorious redemption, which was to be remembered for ever as giving the first and foundation-truth concerning God. A mighty host fled hurriedly forth from Egypt, and found themselves hemmed in by lofty hill-ranges, a flowing sea, and foes pressing hard upon their rear. But there is a pathway through the mighty waters, and the delivered sing of God their Salvation. Redemption is a constant theme in the Mosaic system. The story of the wanderings is a series of illustrations of redeeming grace. God was ever delivering in the time of the Judges. David was redeemed from Saul, Asa from the Ethiopians, Hezekiah from the Assyrians, The saints from all the ages unite to say, "I know that my Redeemer liveth."

II. ALL GOD'S REDEMPTIONS DISPLAY HIS POWER, HIS HOLINESS, AND HIS LOVE. If they did not, they could be no redemption for us. If there is not Divine power in them, then he cannot reach our case. If but one of those redemptions start a question of the Divine righteousness, then we can have no confidence in the worthiness of his scheme to rescue us in Christ. We cannot be satisfied with Christ's salvation unless it is perfectly plain that in his work "justice and mercy have met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other." And if the redemption do not take such a shape as shall display a "love Divine, all love excelling," then our hard cold hearts will never be melted and won. But all these are fully seen in that great redemption wrought by Christ. His is a mighty salvation. The perfect obedience unto death of the beloved Son seals for ever the righteous Father's claims. And as to love, what shall we say about love in sacrifice? "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends;" but "God commendeth his love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Love! It drops from the overcharged heart in the agony of the garden. It drops from the thorn-crowned brow in the mock judgment-hall. It drops from nail-pierced hands on the cruel cross. It drops from the wounded side of him who "bore our sins in his own body on the tree." O melting drops! Let them fall afresh on your heart and mine, and melt us into penitence and responsive love!—R.T.

Isaiah 43:21

The true end of life.

This is illustrated, for us all, in the true end for which the Hebrew tribes were formed into a nation. They were organized in Egypt, delivered, trained in the wilderness, and settled in the land of Canaan for distinct purposes of God. They were formed into a nation "for himself," to "show forth his praise." St. Peter applies this view of the old Israel of God to the new Israel of God, the first Christian Church. "Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light" (1 Peter 2:9). And the same view may be applied to every regenerate individual; he too is formed anew for God; in his new, regenerate life he is to show forth God's praise. Taking illustration from the older and the newer Israel, we may impress the truth of the text in its relations to the individual. The following line of thought may be worked out.

I. Our life on earth is but a limited and dependent thing. It is but a passing time, an interlude.

II. Its beginnings were wholly out of our own control. Whence we came, why we came, we do not know.

III. Its endings are equally beyond our reach. Where we are going, and what we are to be, we know not.

IV. Even in the passing time, we are in the midst of mysteries which we cannot fathom; and. we fashion aims of our own which never satisfy us, even if we attain them.

V. It is evident that there is One who gave us being for his own purposes; who supports us through our interlude to show forth his praise; and who holds the final issues of our lives as the completion of his own all-wise plan.

Then this follows, and may be duly impressed—it is folly indeed for any dependent man to live his brief life unto himself. It is wisdom indeed to know him who gave us being for his own purposes. And he has not left himself without witness concerning himself and concerning his will. His revelation convinces us that the true end of life—which is to honour our Maker—is glorified by the apprehension of how good, how wise, how gracious our Maker is. That which is actually the chief end of life we come lovingly, thankfully, rejoicingly, to set before ourselves as our chief end.—R.T.

Isaiah 43:22

Wearying of God's worship.

This is quite a customary prophetical complaint. The idea seems to be that God noticed his people making a toil rather than a joy of his service. They kept it up, but it was evidently an irksome burden. We can understand that, during the Captivity, when removed from all the solemn associations of the temple-worship, it would be very burdensome to keep up family or public religion. Micah pleads thus, in God's name: "O my people, what have I done unto thee? and wherein have "I wearied thee? testify against me" (Micah 6:3). And Malachi writes thus. Ye stud also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the Lord of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the Lord" (Malachi 1:13). Matthew Henry suggests the signs of the people being thus weary of God's worship.

1. They had cast off prayer.

2. They had grown weary of their religion.

3. They grudged the expense of their devotion.

4. What sacrifices they did offer, they did not honour God with them.

5. Yet God made no unreasonable or burdensome commands upon them. The two points which may be illustrated and enforced, in direct relation to the religious life of our times, are these—

I. MEN SOON WEARY OF GOD'S WORSHIP WHEN THE HEART GOES OUT OF IT. The worship of human beings, enslaved by the senses, must be formal, ritual, ceremonial—in greater or less degrees. And these are most valuable and helpful when they are, what they should be, expressions of the soul's love and admiration and thankfulness. Worship is blessed if there is life in it, heart in it; if it says anything, if it means anything. As a round of formalities, it is but a "weariness." It may be kept up, but only as an irksome task that must be done. So our interest in Divine worship may become a test of ourselves. If there is life in the soul there is sure to be joy in the worship.

II. THE HEART GOES OUT OF THE WORSHIP WHEN WE NEGLECT THE PRIVATE CULTIVATION OF THE REGENERATE LIFE. So often men think to make up by diligence in public religion for neglect and indifference in private religion. But it can never be done. The preparation for worship is private soul-cultivation. We must bring the worship with us, or we shall never find it in the Church. Revive personal piety, and the result will at once be revived interest in Divine worship. If men neglect the house of God, it will always be found that they have "left their first love."—R.T.

Isaiah 43:25

Forgiveness for God's own sake.

"For mine own sake." Human action is seldom taken on the persuasion of only one motive. We can hardly ask—What was your motive? We should ask—What were your motives? One, indeed, may seem to be bigger than the rest, and to have decided the course of conduct; but we are very imperfect readers of human nature if we rest satisfied with the easy statement that every act has a single reason, a supreme motive. We may venture to apply this to God. We cannot think of him as acting without motive. We may assume that he is influenced by various motives. But we may be sure that there is always the controlling motive—he will do that which is consistent with himself, that which upholds the honour of his own Name. He takes into account our prayers, and lets them be persuasions upon him; but behind all other impulses we must see this one ever constraining him—"for his own Name's sake." In the text this is applied to the blotting out of transgressions. Forgiveness comes to us because the Divine righteousness wants exhibition, and the Divine love wants expression. It is uninfluenced by any cause in us, save as our persuasions are permitted to be secondary causes. The sovereignty of Divine forgiveness is constantly pressed upon us in Scripture; and the atonement is the mode in which it gains expression, rather than the agency by which it is secured. God is a forgiving God because he is. No more can be said about it. But we may fully enter into the joy of his forgiveness. Three things may be opened and illustrated.

I. FORGIVENESS AS A HOLY FEELING AND PURPOSE IN THE HEART OF GOD. The father holds forgiveness of the prodigal in his heart long before the son comes back.

II. THE EXPRESSION OF THE FORGIVENESS TO THOSE WHO HAVE SINNED. This is made in Scripture promises, and in the words and works of Christ.

III. THE APPREHENSION OF THE FORGIVENESS BY THOSE WHO NEED IT. This only can be known by the penitent. On the figure used in the text, which recalls the blotting out of a cloud from the sky, Maclaren says, "Sin is but the cloud, as it were, behind which the everlasting sun lies in all its power and warmth, unaffected by the cloud; and the light will yet strike, the light of his love will yet pierce through, with its merciful shafts, bringing healing in their beams, and dispersing all the pitchy darkness of man's transgressions. And as the mists gather themselves up and roll away, dissipated by the heat of that sun in the upper sky, and reveal the fair earth below, so the love of Christ shines in, melting the mist and dissipating the fog, thinning it off in its thickest places, and at last piercing its way right through it, down to the heart of the man that has been lying beneath the oppression of this thick darkness."—R.T.

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Isaiah 43". The Pulpit Commentary. 1897.