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Bible Commentaries

F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary
Isaiah 64

 

 

Verse 4

If verse Isaiah 62:3 of our chapter predicts how the Israel of God in the coming age will be a crown of glory and a diadem in the hand of God, verse Isaiah 62:4 declares the place of blessing that shall be theirs, in contrast with all that has characterized them hitherto. Several times already in reading this prophet we have seen that both they and their land have been forsaken by God because of their sins. To this day no interposition of God on their behalf, comparable to what He did, when He delivered them from Egypt under Moses, has taken place. The delivering act of God is yet to come.

When it does take place by the appearing of Christ, it will be a repentant and born-again people who are delivered. As such they will be called, "Married." The figure used in verse Isaiah 62:5; that of a young man marrying a virgin people and their land, may remind us of the striking words of Psalms 110:1-7, where the people who refused Jesus in the day of His poverty, will be willing in the day of His power, and the youth of Israel will rally to Him as the dew falls in the summer morning. Only then will Jehovah their God rejoice over them.

But though that is so, the forsaken Jerusalem is not forgotten by the Lord. This is expressed by the setting of watchmen on the walls, who are never to hold their peace until deliverance comes. It is worthy of note that Ezekiel was the prophet set as "a watchman unto the house of Israel" (Ezekiel 3:17), and he it was who in vision saw the glory of the Lord depart from the temple and the city. During Israel's night the watchmen are not to hold their peace. They are, so to speak, continually to be reminding the Lord that His glory is involved in the establishment of Israel in their land, and Jerusalem becoming a praise to His name in the earth.

When we lift our thoughts from the earth and Israel's predicted place of blessing therein, to God's purpose for the heavens and for the church, we may surely speak in similar fashion. When in response to our Lord's assurance of His advent, we cry, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus" we are thinking, we trust, not only of the fulness of our own blessing in the heavens, but of God achieving in the church all He purposed before the foundation of the world. There will be, "the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory" (Ephesians 1:14). As on the earth, so in the heavens, His glory will shine forth.

Yet after all the watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem are needed to keep God's purpose before the minds of men, rather than before the mind of God, since He never fails. God Himself has sworn that He will do it, and He swears by Himself, as Hebrews 6:13, reminds. us. He connects His oath in verse Isaiah 62:8 with "His right hand and by the Arm of His strength." So here again the Arm of the Lord is introduced, since it is by Him that the thing will be done, and the Arm is characterized by strength, for Christ is the power of God, as well as the wisdom of God, as we are told in 1 Corinthians 1:24.

Corn and wine are frequently mentioned together in Scripture as indicating the sustenance that man needs, both solid and liquid, only here we see that all will not only be secured to Israel but that it shall be enjoyed by them in the presence of their God; as it is put here "in the courts of My holiness."

The three verses which close the chapter give us a prophetic forecast of how this will be accomplished. In Isaiah, "the daughter of Zion," is an expression that occurs a number of times. The first occurrence is in verse Isaiah 62:8 of chapter 1, and it seems to be identified with the "very small remnant," mentioned in verse Isaiah 62:9. We believe that is the force of it here. The God-fearing remnant will be found scattered to the ends of the world. They will be called and a standard lifted up to which they will gather; and then their way to the holy city and through its gates will be opened up before them, and every stone of stumbling will be removed.

And how will all this be accomplished? By the advent of their Salvation, who is evidently a Person, in the light of the words that follow. By His reward and His work the Arm of the Lord will prove Himself to be God's "Salvation unto the end of the earth" (Isaiah 49:6).

And what will be the result as regards those who are gathered as "the daughter of Zion"? They will at last be exactly what Israel was originally intended to be — "The holy people;" that is, a people separated to God, in accord with His mind and nature. This delightful condition will only be reached since they will be, "the redeemed of the Lord."

This redemption will be a vital and spiritual reality, and not just a national thing, without regard to the spiritual state of individuals, as when they were brought out of Egypt under Moses. It will be brought about by the grace of our God, and not on the ground of law-keeping. This is indicated very clearly in Romans 11:1-36, where Paul states that though at present shut up in unbelief, they will ultimately "obtain mercy." The coming salvation of the godly in Israel will be as wholly an act of Divine mercy as is the salvation of degraded Gentile sinners today. The mercy of God will reach both the people and their city.

But there is another side to this matter, which confronts us as we begin to read chapter 63. Israel's redemption will involve drastic judgment falling on all those who are foes of them and of God, just as judgment fell on the Egyptians, when Israel was typically redeemed in the bygone age. And He, who is to become Israel's Redeemer in power, is the One who will overthrow them. In verse Isaiah 62:1 of our chapter, however, Edom is specially singled out as the one on whom the judgment is to fall. Now Edom is Esau.

In the Proverbs we read that, "A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city," (Proverbs 16:19), and this has been exemplified in the history of Esau and Jacob. The feud today is as strong as ever. It underlies the situation of great danger that surrounds Palestine today. It will be decisively settled at the second coming of Christ. Some excuse might possibly be found for Edom objecting to the reoccupation of the land by unconverted Jews, but evidently their objection will be just as strong against any re-gathering of a converted people. He who will re-gather Israel will destroy them.

The figure of treading "the winepress" is employed in verse Isaiah 62:3, and the same figure is used in the closing verses of Revelation 14:1-20. It evidently indicates judgment of a wholesale and unsparing kind. There is also of course judgment which discriminates between the righteous and the wicked, but then the figure of a harvest is used, as we see in Matthew 13:40-43, as it also is in earlier verses of Revelation 14:1-20, showing that judgment of both kinds will be executed in the coming day.

The whole of Obadiah's short prophecy is directed against Esau and he makes it plain that just when, "upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions," the house of Esau "shall be for stubble," which gives us the same thought of unsparing judgment under a different figure.

In our chapter this judgment is presented as the personal act of the One who is called, "Mine own Arm," taking place when salvation was accomplished on behalf of God and His people. At that solemn moment "the day of vengeance" will be in His heart, that day spoken of in Isaiah 61:2, which our Saviour did not read in the synagogue at Nazareth. That day of vengeance will introduce the year of redemption for God's people. Judgment being God's "strange work " (Isaiah 28:21, it will be a "short work " (Romans 9:28). Hence vengeance is only for a day compared with the year of redemption. All this, be it noted, has to do with the government of God on the earth, and not with saints who today are being called out for a heavenly portion. As far as we are concerned Edom is just one of the peoples amongst whom the Gospel is to be preached, though, alas! so few from amongst them respond to it.

Having predicted the coming day of vengeance, the mind of the prophet turned back in verse Isaiah 62:7 to contemplate the extraordinary goodness of the Lord in His dealings with Israel from ancient days. It had been a story of loving kindness and of mercies according to His own heart. He had adopted them as His people, accredited them with truthfulness and saved them from their oppressors. Moreover He entered into their afflictions, granted His presence, redeemed them from Egypt and carried and cared for them till they reached the land of promise. In Exodus 33:1-23, we read how God promised His presence to Moses and the people, and in the last chapter of that book it is recorded how the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Also we read of the Angel of the Lord who went before them, who here is called "the Angel of His presence." In Malachi 3:1, the expression, "Messenger of the covenant," is really, "Angel of the covenant," and is clearly a prediction of the coming of the Lord Jesus; so here also we may see a reference to Him.

On God's part therefore nothing had been lacking in His dealings with Israel; so what had been their response to all this goodness? Verse Isaiah 62:10 gives the sad answer, "But they rebelled, and grieved His holy Spirit." As a result of this His holy government had to come into action, and He became their adversary. Here we have in few words what Stephen amplified and brought up to date, as recorded in Acts 7:1-60. Here the prophet has to record that they vexed God's holy Spirit. Many centuries after Stephen says to them, "Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost. "To grieve Him is serious indeed, but to resist Him is fatal.

As Isaiah saw it in his day, what was God's answer to this vexing? God remembered His original doings with Moses, and therefore there was hope in the prophet's heart, and still a basis on which he could appeal to the Lord. Again, in verse Isaiah 62:12, the Arm of the Lord is discerned as He who acted at the Red Sea, and the people recognized that God had triumphed gloriously. Hence, on this the last time that the "Arm" is mentioned by Isaiah the adjective "glorious" is attached to His name. Glorious He is indeed.

Verses 12-14 therefore summarize the kindly dealings of God with His people, when He brought them out of Egypt, led them through the wilderness, and finally brought them into the land. There was the acting of "His glorious Arm," and consequently He made for Himself "a glorious name," as well as "an everlasting name." Nevertheless Israel was still under the law, and hence the hand of God lay heavily on them in judgment.

Isaiah was conscious however that he could appeal to God on another ground than the law. So, having mentioned Moses in verse Isaiah 62:11, in the closing verses of the chapter, he makes a further appeal to God on the ground of their connection with Abraham, with whom was made the original covenant of promise. If we read Genesis 15:1-21, we see that the covenant embraced not only Abraham personally but his seed also, that was to include a great multitude. This covenant put his descendants through Isaac into a place of special relationship before God, and had no conditions attached to it.

Now Abraham, though "the friend of God," was but a man and had long since departed, and so was ignorant of them. Israel too — the name given by God to Jacob — might not acknowledge them. Yet Jehovah, who had included them in His covenant, was the abiding One, and from the outset He had been as a Father to them, for in another prophet we have Him saying, "I am a Father to Israel" (Jeremiah 31:9). Hence the appeal to Him here on that basis.

Two things strike us as remarkable here. First, in verse 17 the hardness of heart manifested in the people is traced back to an act of God. "Why hast Thou made us to err..." Was this justified? Clearly it was, for just that was the original message given to Isaiah, in Isaiah 6:9-10. What had happened to them was in principle the same as had happened to Pharaoh. Long before they had been warned, "Harden not your heart as... in the wilderness" (Psalms 95:8), but to this no response had been given, and the time came in God's holy government when He sealed home this hardness of heart upon them; and as the result we have Isaiah's cry to God, Thou hast "hardened our heart to Thy fear."

Has such an action on the part of God any application to us today? Evidently it has, or we should not have found the warnings of Hebrews 3:1-19; Hebrews 4:1-16, based upon those words we have quoted from Psalms 95:1-11. In that Epistle, Jewish believers are taken up on the ground of their profession, and warned by the example of the Jewish people. Not all who profess the faith possess the vital thing. Hence the warning, "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief."

There is also the terrible working of the government of God predicted for the end of our Gospel age, when as to those who refused the truth, "God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie" (2 Thessalonians 2:11). This most drastic action of the government of God will well befit the most drastic refusal of His truth, that the world will ever witness.

In the second place it is remarkable how the prophet complains in verse 18, not only of the brief occupation of the land of promise but also of the treading down of the sanctuary by the adversary. At the time of Isaiah's prophecy, as recorded in the opening of the book, this had not actually taken place, though there had previously been defeats, as in the days of Rehoboam. It appears that Isaiah was given to see the end to which the people were drifting, and to appeal to God in the light of it. That the sanctuary should be defaced by the adversary was the crowning blow. If that was lost, all was lost. In the light of this we can understand the touching appeal that is made, beginning and ending with what is called, "the habitation of Thy holiness and of Thy glory."

Now what will have to take place if this appeal of the prophet is to be answered? Evidently that which he yearned for, as expressed in the first verse of the next chapter. God Himself must intervene in a very personal way. He must rend the heavens and come down. Nothing short of this would suffice. Yes, but how should this be done?

The words that follow make very plain what Isaiah had in his mind. He desired that God would personally intervene in power and in judgment. He knew that God had come down at the start of their national history, when there were thunders, lightnings, fire, and "the whole mount quaked greatly," even if it did not actually flow down at His presence. Now, if there were another such display of the Divine presence, surely the effect would be great.

It was, of course, something of this kind that would break up the Roman power, and work a visible deliverance for Israel, that the people, even the godly ones, connected with the coming of their Messiah, as we see so plainly manifested by the disciples, both before Jesus died, and even after His resurrection. Something of that sort will take place at the second coming of Christ, as Zechariah 14:4, testifies. And for that coming we wait.

But we today are in the happy position of knowing that this desire for the presence of God has been answered first in another way. Earlier Isaiah had foretold the coming of the One, whose name should be, Immanuel, and in the opening of Matthew's Gospel we are told the meaning of that name - God with us. The heavens were rent upon Him just as He came forth in public service. He came amongst us, "full of grace and truth;" not doing, "terrible things," but rather suffering Himself the terrible things, when He died as the Sacrifice for sin.

Compared with these prophetic desires, and even forecasts, into what "marvellous light" we have been brought!


Verses 4-12

2

It is striking how verse Isaiah 64:4 follows what we have dwelt upon in the first three verses. Isaiah desired a mighty display of the power of God such as had been manifested at the outset of Israel's history: yet he was conscious that God had in reserve things beyond all human knowledge, and prepared for those who waited for Him to act.

To this verse the Apostle Paul referred in 1 Corinthians 2:9, showing that though in ordinary matters men arrive at knowledge by the hearing of the ear — tradition — or by the eye — observation — or by what we may call intuition, these things can only reach us by revelation from God by His Spirit. Isaiah knew that there were things to be revealed. Paul tells us that they have been revealed, so that we may know them.

In keeping with this, the Apostle Peter has told us in his first Epistle that when the Spirit of Christ testified through the prophets, they "inquired and searched diligently," concerning what they had written, and they discovered that they were predicting things, only to be made known to such as ourselves who are brought into the light of what Christ has accomplished. So again we have to remind ourselves how great are the privileges that are ours. God has indeed "come down," but in grace and not, for the time being, in judgment.

The prophet foresaw that when the prepared things were made known they would only be received if a certain moral state were found. There must be not only the waiting for Him but also a rejoicing in righteousness and working the same, as well as a remembrance of God in all His ways. Thus the godly remnant of Israel are described here. It will be so in a future day, and so it is today, since it is only by the Spirit that we perceive and receive the wonderful things now revealed. When, having been received, the Spirit of God is in control, we enter into the enjoyment of the things that God has prepared for those who love Him.

Now at that moment the necessary state did not exist amongst the people, hence we have the words, "Behold, Thou art wroth; for we have sinned." This confession is placed in brackets, in Darby's New Translation, so that the following words spring out of the beginning of the verse. In righteousness and remembrance is to be "continuance, and we shall be saved." Isaiah had previously presented to us, "a just God and a Saviour" (Isaiah 45:21); thus the people whom He saves must be brought into conformity with Himself.

Verses Isaiah 64:6-7, continue the confession of sin that was interjected in verse Isaiah 64:5. Notice the four figures that are used to express their sorrowful state. First, unclean, as a leper is unclean, in the sight of the law. Second, their "righteousnesses," that is, their many doings which they considered to be acts of righteousness, were but "filthy rags" in the sight of God. Third, as a consequence of this they were all fading, dying things, like autumn leaves. Fourth, their sins were like a wind that blew them all away.

Are things different today? Has the spread of a civilisation based upon Christian ideals altered things? It has not, and things are just the same. The leprosy of sin is just as virulent; the outward righteousnesses of mankind are just as spurious; death is just as busy; the wind of God's judgment on sin will soon sweep all away.

Further the prophet had to complain that no one was rightly moved by this state of things, so as to call upon the name of God; no one was found to take hold of God in supplication and prayer. The fact was that God had hid His face from them in His holy government. It was a sad state of affairs when no one was stirred to take the place of an intercessor.

And without a doubt we may say the same as we look on the state of Christendom today. Bright spots there are, thank God! — spots where the Spirit of God is manifestly at work. But in spite of this, the picture over-all is a dark one. Evil abounds under the profession of Christ's name, and even where the Spirit of God is working, wholehearted servants of God are all too few. Who stirs himself up to take hold on God as to it? Who prays to the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest? — as the Lord Himself directed in Matthew 9:38. May God Himself stir us up, instead of hiding His face from us, if we fail to stir ourselves up in this matter.

Now, in our chapter, comes the touching appeal to Jehovah. The very first words of Isaiah's prophecy were, "The Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me." Very well then Jehovah had taken the place of Father to Israel, and upon that the faith of the prophet counted, and on it he based his appeal. Moreover Jehovah was not only Father to them but He was as a Potter also. Israel was but the clay in His hand.

That this was so, and that God acknowledged it to be so, was made manifest a little later in the days of Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 18:1-23 we read how he was instructed to go down to the potter's house and receive a lesson there. He saw the clay vessel "marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it." The Lord proceeded to tell Israel that they were in His hand as clay is in the hand of the potter, so He could do with them as seemed good in His sight. Confining our thoughts to Israel, we know that God will make another vessel, which is what the Lord Jesus was showing Nicodemus, as narrated in John 3:1-36. That which is born of the flesh — even Abrahamic flesh — is flesh. Only that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Only a born-again Israel will enter the Kingdom.

In Isaiah's day the point as to "another vessel," made known to Jeremiah, had hardly been reached; hence here we have further pleadings with God on behalf of the marred vessel as we see in the four verses that close the chapter. "We are all Thy people," says the prophet, though about that time, or very soon after, Hosea's son had to be called "Lo-ammi: for ye are not My people, and I will not be your God" (Hosea 1:9). These closing verses of appeal seem like a last cry to God, before the sentence of repudiation was given to Hosea.

The iniquity marking the people is confessed, but mercy is sought. The desolations mentioned in verses Isaiah 64:10-11 strike us as being stated prophetically, for though the king of Assyria ravaged the cities of Judah in the days of Hezekiah, he was not allowed to take Jerusalem nor burn the temple. Jeremiah it was, who actually saw these things fulfilled. Even in Hezekiah's day however, it was certain that these terrible desolations would come to pass, as we saw when reading the end of chapter 39 of this book. When they were accomplished Israel was set aside for the time being, and the times of the Gentiles began.

The two verses that commence Isaiah 65:1-25, are in exact harmony with this. They are quoted by the Apostle Paul in Romans 10:20, Romans 10:21 after he had shown that even Moses had upbraided the people and predicted that God would turn from them to others. Then he prefaced his quotation from our chapter by Saying that, "Esaias is very bold..."

Yes, Isaiah does speak with great boldness for he speaks as the very voice of Jehovah rather than speaking about Him. He does not say, "He is sought... He is found... He said..." but rather, "I am sought...I am found...I said..." How comes it, we may enquire, that people who never asked after God should be seeking Him? The answer seems obvious. It must take place as the result of God seeking after them. This is exactly what has taken place in this Gospel age. Israel being set aside, God goes out in sovereign mercy to Gentiles, as Paul goes on to explain in Romans 11:1-36. Has the wonder of this mercy penetrated our hearts in any substantial measure?

God's dealings with Israel, in setting them aside for this long period, is justified by what we read in verse Isaiah 64:2. The people had been rebellious, following "their own thoughts," instead of God's thoughts, as expressed in His holy law, and these thoughts of theirs led their feet into a way that was not good. God had condescended to entreat them "all the day," and that "day" had been a long one, extending over centuries of time. To these entreaties they had not responded.

The following verses lay specific evils to their charge, but before we consider them let us pause a moment to consider whether we have been guilty of pursuing our own thoughts instead of God's in that which has been revealed to us. His mind for us as individual Christians, and also as members of the body of Christ — the church — is plainly stated in the Epistles of the New Testament. Now it is sadly easy to slip away from these and walk after our own thoughts; and more particularly so in regard to church matters; easy to say, "That was doubtless right enough for the first-century Christians, but hardly practicable for us today." But it is God's thoughts and ways that are perfect, whilst our own thoughts lead us into "a way that was not good."

The evil ways of Israel were largely connected with idolatrous practices, as verses Isaiah 64:3-7 show. The opening words of Deuteronomy 12:1-32 are, "These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do in the land," and there follow prohibitions against the high places and groves, or gardens, and altars which the heathen nations had made. So God's way for them was that they should bring all their offerings to His place in Jerusalem; offering as He had commanded. But they preferred to worship according to their own thoughts with the result that is described in these verses. Their sacrifices were wrong; their altars were wrong; the food they ate was wrong; and to crown all this they affected a sanctimonious piety, which led them to say to others, "Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou."

This plainly indicates that the evil of Pharisaism began early in Israel's history. The spirit of it is plainly visible when we read the prophecy of Malachi. It reached its fullest and worst expression in the time of our Lord, furnishing the main element which led to His crucifixion. We may remember how He charged them with, "Teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:9). So this quite agrees with what we have just seen stated by Isaiah. They preferred to walk after their own thoughts, rather than by the word of God. The same evil principle has persisted through the years, and it is all too evident today within the circle of Christian profession. Though their positions, both doctrinally and ecclesiastically, may widely differ, there are found those who demand separation — "Stand by thyself, come not near to me," — based on a claim of superior sanctity or spirituality as the case may be. Such separatists are as offensive to God as, "smoke in My nose, a fire that burneth all the day."

Now this state of things in Israel demanded a recompence of judgment from the hand of God. It would seem that this spurious sanctity on top of their rebellious disobedience was their crowning sin. It brought upon them the seventy years of captivity in Babylon; and, when those years had passed and a remnant came back to the land, the same hypocrisy sprang up in their midst again, rendered worse, if anything, by the very mercy that had been shown to them. They crucified their Messiah saying "His blood be on us, and on our children." Thus it has been through their long centuries of trouble, and will yet be in the far worse sorrows of the great tribulation.

The lesson for us is that God desires obedience to His thoughts, expressed in His word, If that be our aim, we shall soon realize how little we apprehend them, and even more feebly carry them out, and this will produce in us a spirit of humility — the complete opposite to that of a spurious sanctity such as is revealed here.

Another note is struck when we reach verse Isaiah 64:8. Under the figure of sparing a cluster of grapes, because it is of value for wine producing, God declares that He will spare a remnant of the people, though judgment must fall on the mass. This He will do, "that I may not destroy them all." This remnant is spoken of as, "My servants," and in the next verse as, "a seed out of Jacob," and also as, "Mine elect," who will inherit the land.

We may remember how our Lord Himself was predicted as "Seed" of the woman, in Genesis 3:1-24, and again as the "Seed" of Abraham, concerning which the Apostle wrote "He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy Seed, which is Christ" (Galatians 3:16). When considering Isaiah 53:1-12, we also saw that the risen Christ is to "see His seed," as the fruit of the travail of His soul; and the same thought meets us at the close of the other great prediction of the sufferings of Christ in atonement — "A seed shall serve Him" (Psalms 22:30). He, who is pre-eminently the "Seed," is to have a seed of His own order in His risen life. This thought underlies the verses we are considering.

Two further things may be pointed out before we leave these verses. First, it was to this godly seed that the Lord Jesus referred at the beginning of His well-known, "Sermon on the Mount." The prophet speaks of, "an inheritor of My mountains," and says, "Mine elect shall inherit it." The third beatitude is, "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5). Now this enlarges the promise, so that it applies beyond the confines of Jacob and Judah. It is the meek of all peoples who will inherit the earth, when Heaven's kingdom is at last universally established.

The second thing we have to remember is that this remnant according to the election of grace, called out from the mass of the Jews, exists today, though by the very fact of its calling it is severed from Judaism and its earthly hopes. That it exists is made plain by the Apostle Paul in the opening verses of Romans 11:1-36, and he cites his own case as the proof of it. We have to read Ephesians 2:1-22, particularly the latter part of it, to learn the new position of heavenly favour and blessing into which they are brought in association with those called from among the Gentiles by the Gospel that is being preached today.

In our chapter earthly blessing is before us, as verse Isaiah 64:10 makes very plain. The valley of Achor, was a place of judgment, as narrated in Joshua 7:24-26. That place of judgment is to become, "a door of hope," according to Hosea 2:15. Our verse reveals it as a place of rest for flocks and for men. Is there not a parable in this? Where judgment has been executed, there hope is to be found, and rest is the final result.

We leave this beautiful picture when we read verses Isaiah 64:11-12. God cannot forget the existing state of departure and sin that marked the people in Isaiah's day They had forsaken Jehovah; they had forsaken His holy mountain, whereon stood His temple. And to what had they turned? The rest of the verse reveals it, though the translation is rather obscure. In Darby's New Translation we find "Gad" substituted for "that troop," and "Meni" for "that number," with footnotes giving an explanation to the effect that the former word indicates, "Fortune, or the planet Jupiter," and the latter word, "Number, or Fate, or the planet Venus."

The people had turned aside to worship the heavenly bodies, and connected their false worship with the gambling instincts, which are so strong in fallen humanity. If things went well it was Fortune. If badly, it was Fate. In the minds of the people these were deities to whom they made offerings of food and drink. As so often "table" is a figure indicating solid food, as on the table of showbread, and wine furnished the drink. This throws some light on the Apostle's words in 1 Corinthians 10:21, where he mentions, "the cup of devils," and "the table of devils." The devils of this verse were of course demons; and demon power lay behind the "Gad" and the "Meni," mentioned here.

When in verse Isaiah 64:12, God says He will "number" them to the sword, there is an allusion to the name "Meni," which means number. The people are plainly told that judgment and death lay before them. They were rejecting the law of God. We are living in an age when men are rejecting the grace of God; and to do this is more serious than to reject law, as we are told in Hebrews 10:20. When the Gospel is preached, let this be made very plain.

 


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Bibliography Information
Hole, Frank Binford. "Commentary on Isaiah 64:4". "F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fbh/isaiah-64.html. 1947.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 13th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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