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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Isaiah 25

 

 

Verses 1-5

3. ISRAEL’S SONG OF PRAISE FOR DELIVERANCE

Isaiah 25:1-5

1 O Lord, thou art my God;

I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name;

For thou hast done wonderful things;

Thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.

2 For thou hast made of a city an heap;

Of a defenced city a ruin;

A palace of strangers to be no city;

It shall never be built.

3 Therefore shall the strong people glorify thee,

The city of the terrible nations shall fear thee.

4 For thou hast been a [FN1]strength to the poor,

A [FN2]strength to the needy in his distress;

A refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat;

[FN3]When the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.

5 Thou shalt bring down the noise of strangers,

As the heat in a dry place;

Even the heat with the shadow of a cloud:

The [FN4]branch of the terrible ones shall be brought low.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

Isaiah 25:1. אדוממך (comp. Psalm 30:2) forms an intended rhyme with שִׁמְךָ. The expression עשׂה פלא first occurs Exodus 15:11. Comp. פֶלֶא יוֹעֵץ Isaiah 9:5. Here עצות follows פלא as there יוֹעץ. Is this accidental? אמן אמונה (אמן is ἄπ. λεγ.). The two words are dependent on עשׂית. God has shown truth which is faithfulness, i.e., faithful, certain. The two substantives of the same root (comp. Isaiah 3:1; Isaiah 16:6) which are placed togother, stand in the relation of apposition. Similar constructions occur Proverbs 22:21; Jeremiah 10:10; Genesis 1:12; Jeremiah 20:1. In these cases the substantive standing in apposition serves the place of an adjective that is wanting, or intensifies the notion of the adjective.

Isaiah 25:2. The construction שׂמת מעיר לנל is a confusio duarum constructionum. For it must be either שַׂמְתָּ עִיר לְנַל (comp. Joel 1:7; Isaiah 5:20; Isaiah 14:23, et saepe) or שַׂמְתָּ נַּל מֵעִיר (comp. Hosea 13:2; Genesis 2:19). The construction here employed has arisen from the blending of these two modes of expression. Before חרֶֹב, Isaiah 25:5 b, we have to supply כְּ from the first part of the verse, or חרב is to be regarded as in apposition.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. The contemplation of the mighty acts of God naturally excites to praise and thanksgiving. We are here reminded of Romans 11:33 sqq, where Paul cannot avoid praising in a hymn the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God. In like manner the Prophet here extols the Lord for having executed so gloriously His wonderful purpose embracing the most remote times, thus having proved Himself to be true, and at the same time having attested the Prophet as a faithful interpreter of the thoughts of God ( Isaiah 25:1). The Lord has shown how He can make good what is most incredible. He announced the destruction of great cities, when they were in the height of their power and glory; and so it has happened ( Isaiah 25:2). He has thereby constrained even His enemies to honor and fear Him ( Isaiah 25:3). But to His poor oppressed church He has been a shield and refuge; and has subdued the raging of her enemies against her ( Isaiah 25:5).

2. O LORD … truth.

Isaiah 25:1. The Prophet here sings a psalm as in chapter12. The very commencement: O LORD, thou art my God recalls places of the Psalm as Psalm 31:15; Psalm 40:6; Psalm 86:12; Psalm 118:28; Psalm 143:10; Psalm 145:1; comp. Jeremiah 31:18, places which are related to the one before us partly as models, but mostly as copies. The עצות מרחק are in my judgment not merely the counsels conceived from afar, i.e., from eternity ( Isaiah 22:11; Isaiah 37:26), but also the counsels reaching to a remote incalculable distance. מרחק can grammatically bear this meaning ( Isaiah 17:13; Isaiah 20:3). And is it not a quite characteristic mark of the prophecy contained in chap 24 to which this hymn particularly relates, that it reaches to the utmost, end of the present aeon of the world? Could this have remained unknown to the Prophet? Although, according to 1 Peter 1:11, Isaiah, when reflecting on the time of the fulfilment, could not attain to exact knowledge, yet so much he must have been aware of, that his look was fixed on facts which follow the destruction of the globe of the earth in its present form ( Isaiah 24:17 sqq.). The Prophet risked something when he gave expression to these strange unintelligible things which appeared such as an enthusiast would utter. But he could not do otherwise, and he did it unhesitatingly, confiding in the omniscience and veracity of the Lord. And this sure confidence, that he with his bold prophecy would not be put to shame, did not deceive him. He sees all the marvels which he predicted realized. Therefore he praises God’s truth, faithfulness.

3. For thou hast made—fear thee.

Isaiah 25:2-3. The Prophet now goes into details. The prophecy contains partly threatening, partly promise. The Lord has made both good. This is first affirmed of the threatening, and at the same time the salutary effect of its fulfilment is shown ( Isaiah 25:3). כִּי in the beginning of Isaiah 25:2, and כִּי in the beginning of Isaiah 25:4 correspond to one another. Both serve to prove the truth of what was said in Isaiah 25:1 : For thou hast done,etc. The general expression for thou hast made of a city a stone-heap, sets at defiance all attempts of modern criticism to explain the prophecy of some definite historical fact. Not only once, but as often as it was predicted, the Lord has converted into a stone-heap a city which at the time of the threatening was mighty and flourishing. City and defenced city are used collectively. After the all-including עִיר the Prophet makes mention of the prominent parts of the city, the fortifications and the high buildings (palaces). ארמון23:13; Isaiah 32:14; Isaiah 34:13. The palaces of the foreigners (comp. on Isaiah 1:7) have become מֵעִיר, i.e., without city, and therefore no city. They stand desolated and solitary in the midst of the destroyed city, still capable of being recognized as palaces, but yet in the way of becoming what all around them is. For what else than a ruin can a palace become, which no city, no wall encompasses, which is exposed to every attack? The ruins of the palaces of Nineveh, Babylon, etc., attest this. מִן in מֵעִיר is therefore to be taken in that negative sense in which it can denote “without,” and also “not.” (Comp. Isaiah 17:1; Isaiah 7:8; Isaiah 23:1). We have further to observe that the two מֵעִיר in Isaiah 25:2 correspond to one another; if out of the city (מֵעִיר), there has become a heap, then the ארכאן is also מֵעיר, i.e., the palace has no longer a city around it, and is also no more a city. This is very prominently set forth by the last clause it shall never be built (from Deuteronomy 13:7, comp. Job 12:14). The conquered must own the might of the victor, do him homage and fear him. This homage and fear may be caused by sheer force, and so be merely outward. But it is possible that the conquered have been inwardly vanquished by their adversary, i.e., that they have perceived that there is error and injustice on their side, and on the side of their conqueror, truth and right. In this case the honor and fear which they render, will be not merely constrained and outward, but voluntary and sincere. The latter is to be supposed here. Isaiah has frequently predicted the conversion of the heathen Isaiah 2:2 sqq.; Isaiah 11:10; Isaiah 19:18 sqq.; Isaiah 23:15 sqq.; Isaiah 24:13 sqq. Mark the imperfects (futures) in Isaiah 25:3. The Prophet sees what is expressed in Isaiah 25:2 as absolutely past; but the honoring and fearing spoken of in Isaiah 25:3, will continue to all eternity.

4. For thou hast been—brought low.

Isaiah 25:4-5. The leading thought of these two verses is that the Prophet perceives with gratitude and joy the manner in which the Lord has fulfilled His promises. כִּי in Isaiah 25:4 corresponds therefore to כִּי in Isaiah 25:2. That the Lord will be מָעוֹז (stronghold, Isaiah 17:9-10; Isaiah 23:4; Isaiah 23:14; Isaiah 27:5; Isaiah 30:3) to the דַּל ( Isaiah 10:2; Isaiah 11:4; Isaiah 14:30; Isaiah 26:6) and to the אֶבְיוֹן ( Isaiah 14:30; Isaiah 29:19; Isaiah 32:7; Isaiah 41:17) has been often enough declared by the Prophet (comp. the passages referred to). דל and אביון are, as Delitzsch remarks, designations, well-known from the Psalm, of the “ecclesia pressa.” The second part of Isaiah 25:4 is almost wholly borrowed from Isaiah 4:6. What is there promised is here seen by the Prophet as fulfilled (comp. Isaiah 32:2). But this fulfilment has a positive and a negative side. The positive, i.e., the giving of safety is only possible on the ground of the negative, i.e., after the destruction of those who would deprive the poor of safety and bring them to ruin. כִּי (translate for) before רוּחַ is therefore not co-ordinate with כִּי in the beginning of Isaiah 25:2; Isaiah 25:4, but is subordinate to the latter. רוּחַ is here the blast, the storm, the furious snorting, raging of the violent ones ( Isaiah 30:28; Isaiah 33:11). זרם קיר is a wall-storm,i.e., a storm beating against a strong wall. See a parallel expression in Isaiah 9:3 : מַטֵּה שְׁכֶם, the staff striking the shoulder. Mark how the hindrances to safety previously mentioned are here represented under a three-fold gradation רוּחַ,שָׁאוֹן and זְמִיר. We shall not err if we regard the first word as marking the beginning, the second the middle, and the third the end of the hostile action. For one part of the assaults made by the wicked on the servants and children of God is warded off at the very commencement, when it is yet only snorting. It rebounds without doing harm as rain from the stone wall. But another part reaches its full meridian height. It sends forth the arrows of its fury as the sun sends forth the arrows of its flame in the hot land, but the Lord bends them downwards. After a victory has been won, songs of triumph are sung (זמיר means triumphal Song of Solomon, not branch, comp. Song of Solomon 2:12). The enemies of the people of God can in many cases have their victory and triumph. But even when it has gone so far, the Lord is still able to afford deliverance. He can bow to the dust the enemy already triumphant, and singing songs of praise. As the shadow ( Isaiah 30:2-3; Isaiah 49:2; Isaiah 51:16) of a cloud keeps off the rays of the sun, and so diminishes the heat, so will a humiliating termination be prepared for the enemies’ song of victory by the hand of the Most High, which He holds as a sheltering shadow over His people ( Isaiah 49:2; Isaiah 51:16; Job 8:9).

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. Isaiah 24:2. “When general judgments take place, no distinction is observed between man and wife, master and servant, mistress and maid, learned and unlearned, noble and plebeian, clergy and laity; therefore let no one rely on any external prerogative or superiority, but let every one without distinction repent and forsake sin.”—Cramer. Though this is right, yet we must, on the other hand, remember that the Lord declares in reference to the same great event, “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left” ( Matthew 24:10 sq.). There is no contradiction in these two statements. Both are true: outward relations will make no difference; there shall be no respect of persons. But the state of the heart will make a difference. According to the inward character there will, in the case of those whose external position in the world is perfectly alike, be some who enter life, others whose doom is death.

2. Isaiah 24:5 sq. “The earth is burdened with sins, and is therefore deprived of every blessing. The earth must suffer for our guilt, when we have as it were spoilt it, and it must be subject to vanity for our sakes ( Romans 8:20). What wonder is it that it should show itself ungrateful toward us?”—Cramer.

3. Isaiah 24:13 sq. “Observe the small number of this remnant; here and there one who shall escape the common calamity (as Noah and his family, when the old world was drowned), who when all faces gather blackness, can lift up their head with joy. Luke 21:26-28.” Henry.—D. M.].

4. Isaiah 24:17-20. Our earth is a volcanic body. Mighty volcanic forces were active at its formation. That these are still in commotion in the interior of the earth is proved by the many active volcanoes scattered over the whole earth, and by the perpetual volcanic convulsions which we call earthquakes. These have hitherto been confined to particular localities. But who can guarantee that a concentration and simultaneous eruption of those volcanic forces, that Isaiah, a universal earthquake, shall not hereafter occur? The Lord makes express mention of earthquakes among the signs which shall precede His second coming ( Matthew 24:7; Mark 13:8; Luke 21:11). And in 2 Peter 3:5 sqq. the future destruction of the earth by fire is set over against the destruction of the old world by water. Isaiah in our place announces a catastrophe whose characteristic features will be that, 1) there will be no escape from it; 2) destructive forces will assail from above and below; 3) the earth will be rent asunder; 4) it will reel and totter; 5) it will suffer so heavy a fall that it will not rise again ( Isaiah 24:20 b). Is there not here a prophecy of the destruction of the earth by volcanic forces? And how suddenly can they break loose! The ministers of the word have every reason to compare this extreme exposedness of our earth to fire, and the possibility of its unexpectedly sudden collapse with the above-cited warnings of the word of God, and to attach thereto the admonition which is added in 2 Peter 3:11.

5. Isaiah 24:21. The earth is a part of our planetary system. It is not what it appears to the optical perception to be, a central body around which worlds of a different nature revolve, but it, together with many similar bodies, revolves round a common centre. The earth according to that view of the account of the creation in Genesis 1, which appears to me the true one, has arisen with all the bodies of our Solar system out of one primary matter, originally united, common to them all. If our Solar System is a well-ordered, complete organism, it must rest on the basis of a not merely formal, but also material unity; i.e., the separate bodies must move, not only according to a principle of order which governs all, but they must also as to their substance be essentially like. And as they arose simultaneously, so must they perish simultaneously. It is inconceivable that our earth alone should disappear from the organism of the Solar System, or pass over to a higher material condition. Its absence, or ceasing to exist in its previous form and substance, would necessarily draw after it the ruin of the whole system. Hence the Scripture speaks every where of a passing away and renovation of the heaven and the earth ( Psalm 102:26; Isaiah 51:6; Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22; Matthew 5:18; Matthew 24:29; Matthew 24:35; 2 Peter 3:7; 2 Peter 3:10; 2 Peter 3:13; Hebrews 12:26; Revelation 20:11; Revelation 21:1). The heaven that shall pass away with a great noise, whose powers shall be shaken, whose stars shall fall, is the planetary heaven. The same lot will happen to the companions of our earth, to the other planets, and to the centre, the sun, and to all other co-ordinate and subordinate stellar bodies, which will befall the earth itself. This is the substance of the view which serves as a basis for our place. But personal beings are not thereby by any means excluded from the צבא מרום. The parallel expression מלכי האדמה, and the use in other places of the related expression צבא השׁמים lead us rather to suppose personal beings to be included. But I believe that a distinction must be made here. As the heavenly bodies which will pass away simultaneously with the earth, can only be those which arose together with it, and which stand in organic connection with it, so also the angelic powers, which are judged simultaneously with us men, can be only those which stand in connection with the heavenly bodies of our Solar System, i.e., with the earthly material world. There are heavenly bodies of glorious pneumatic substance. If personal beings stand in connection with them, they must also be pure, glorious, resplendent beings. These will not be judged. They are the holy angels, who come with the Lord ( Matthew 25:31). But it is quite conceivable that all the bodies of our Solar System are till the judgment like our earth suffered to be the theatre of the spirits of darkness.

6. Isaiah 24:21-23, It seems to me that the Prophet has here sketched the chief matters pertaining to eschatology. For the passing away of heaven and earth, the binding of Satan ( Revelation 20:1-3), the loosing of Satan again ( Revelation 20:7), and finally the reign of God alone, which will make sun and moon unnecessary ( Revelation 21:23)—are not these the boundary-stones of the chief epochs of the history of the end of the world?

7. [“The Lord of hosts makes this feast. The provision is very rich, and every thing is of the best. It is a feast, which supposes abundance and variety; it is a continual feast to believers: it is their fault if it be not. It is a feast of fat things and full of marrow; so relishing, so nourishing are the comforts of the Gospel to all those that feast upon them and digest them. The returning prodigal was entertained with the fatted calf; and David has that pleasure in communion with God, with which his soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness. It is a feast of wines on the lees; the strongest-bodied wines, that have been long kept upon the lees, and then are well refined from them, so that they are clear and fine. There is that in the Gospel which, like fine wine, soberly used, makes glad the heart, and raises the spirits, and is fit for those that are of a heavy heart, being under convictions of sin, and mourning for it, that they may drink and forget their misery (for that is the proper use of wine; it is a cordial for those that need it, Proverbs 31:6-7) may be of good cheer, knowing that their sins are forgiven, and may be vigorous in their spiritual work and warfare, as a strong man refreshed with wine.” Henry.—D. M.]

8. Isaiah 25:9. “In the Old Testament the vail and covering were before men’s eyes, partly because they waited for the light that was to appear, partly because they sat in darkness and in the shadow of death ( Luke 1:79). The fulfilment of this prediction has in Christ already begun, and will at last be perfectly fulfilled in the Church triumphant where all ignorance and sorrow shall be dispelled ( 1 Corinthians 13:12).” Cramer.

9. Isaiah 25:8. “God here represents Himself as a mother, who presses to her bosom her sorrowful Song of Solomon, comforts him and wipes away his tears ( Isaiah 66:13). The righteous are to believe and appropriate this promise, that every one may learn to speak with Paul in the time of trial: the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us, Romans 8:18.” Cramer.

10. Isaiah 25:10. “This is now the hope and consolation of the church that the hand of the Lord rests on this mountain, that Isaiah, that He will be gracious, and let His power, help and grace be there seen and felt. But the unbelieving Moabites, i.e., the Jews, with all others who will not receive the gospel, shall be threshed to pieces as straw in the mire; these the Lord’s hand will not rescue, as it helps those who wait on Him, but it shall press them down so that they will never rise, according to the saying, Mark 16:16.” Veit Dietrich.

11. Isaiah 25 Three thoughts contained in this chapter we should hold fast: 1) When we see the world triumph over every thing which belongs to the Lord and His kingdom, when our hearts are anxious about the preservation in the world of the Church of Christ, which is sore oppressed, let this word of the Prophet comfort our hearts. The world-city which contains all that is of the world, sinks into the dust, and the church of Christ goes from her chains and bands into the state of freedom and glory. We have often seen that it is the Lord’s way to let every thing come to maturity. When it is once ripe, He comes suddenly with His sentence. Let us comfort ourselves therewith, for thus will it happen with the world and its dominion over the faithful followers of Christ. When it is ripe, suddenly it will come to an end2) No one who has a heart for the welfare of the nations can see without the deepest pain how all hearts are now seduced and befooled, and all eyes closed and covered. The simplest truths are no longer acknowledged, but the more perverse, brutal and mean views and doctrines are, the more greedily are they laid hold of. We cannot avert this. But our comfort is that even this seduction of the nations will reach its climax. Then men will come to themselves. The vail and covering will fall off, and the Gospel will shine with new light before the nations. Therewith let us comfort ourselves3) Till this happens, the church is sorrowful. But she shall be full of joy. The promise is given to her that she shall be fully satisfied with the good things of the house of the Lord. A life is promised to her which neither death nor any pain can affect, as she has rest from all enemies. The word of the Lord shall be fulfilled in her: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. The Church that has such a promise may wait in patient quietness for its accomplishment, and praise the Lord in affliction, till it pleases Him to glorify her before all nations.” Weber, The Prophet Isaiah. 1875.

12. Isaiah 26:1. “The Christian church is a city of God. God has built it, and He is the right Master-builder. It is strong: 1) on account of the Builder; 2) on account of the foundation and corner-stone, which is Christ; 3) on account of the bond wherewith the living stones are bound together, which is the unity of the faith.” Cramer. [The security and happiness of true believers, both on earth and in heaven, is represented in Scripture under the image of their dwelling in a city in which they can bid defiance to all their enemies. We dwell in such a city even now, Psalm 46:4-5. We look for such a city, Hebrews 11:10; Hebrews 11:16; Revelation 21—D. M.]

13. [These words may be taken as a description of the people whom God owns, who are fit to be accounted members of the church of the living God on earth, and who will not be excluded from the celestial city. Instead of complaining that only the righteous and the faithful will be admitted into the heavenly city, it should rather give us joy to think that there will be no sin there, that none but the just and true will there be found. This has been a delightful subject of reflection to God’s saints. The last words written by Henry Martyn were: “Oh! when shall time give place to eternity? When shall appear that new heaven and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness? There, there shall in no wise enter in any thing that defileth; none of that wickedness which has made men worse than wild beasts—none of their corruptions which add to the miseries of mortality shall be seen or heard of any more.”—D. M.]

14. Isaiah 26:4. “The fourth privilege of the church is trust in God the Rock of Ages, i.e., in Christ, who not only here, but also Matthew 16; 1 Corinthians 10; 1 Peter 2, is called a rock in a peculiar manner, because no other foundation of salvation and of the church can be laid except this rock, which is here called the rock of ages on account of the eternity of His being, merit and office. Hence a refutation can be drawn of the papistical fable which makes Peter and his successors, the Roman Pontiffs, to be the rock on which the church is built.” Foerster. [“Whatever we trust to the world for, it will be but for a moment. All we expect from it is confined within the limits of time; but what we trust in God for will last as long as we shall last. For in the Lord Jehovah, Jah, Jehovah, in Him who was, and Isaiah, and is to come, there is a rock of ages, a firm and lasting foundation for faith and hope to build upon; and the house built on that rock will stand in a storm.” Henry.”—D. M.]

15. Isaiah 26:5. “It is very common with the prophets, when they prophesy of the kingdom of Christ to make reference to the proud and to the needy, and to represent the latter as exalted and the former as brought low. This truth is directed properly against the self-righteous. For Christ and His righteousness will not endure spiritual pride and presumption; but the souls that are poor, that hunger and thirst for grace, that know their need, these Christ graciously receives.” Cramer.

16. Isaiah 26:6. “It vexes the proud all the more that they will be overcome by those who are poor and of no consequence. For example, Goliath was annoyed that a boy should come against him with a staff ( 1 Samuel 13:43) Cramer.

17. Isaiah 26:8-10. That the justice of God must absolutely manifest itself that the majesty of the Lord may be seen, and that the wicked may learn righteousness, must even from a new Testament view-point be admitted. But the New Testament disputes the existence of any one who is righteous when confronted by the law, and who is not deserving of punishment. [But that there is none righteous, no not one, is taught most emphatically in the Old Testament also.—D. M.]. But it (the New Testament) while it shuts up all, Jews and Gentiles, without exception, under sin ( Galatians 3:22; Romans 3:9; Romans 11:32), sets forth a scheme of mediation, which, while it renders full satisfaction to justice, at the same time offers to all the possibility of deliverance. This mediation is through the Cross of Christ. It is only when this mediation has not been accepted that punitive justice has free course. It should not surprise us that even the Evangelist of the Old Covenant, who wrote chap53, did not possess perfect knowledge of this mediation. Let us remember John the Baptist ( Matthew 3:7; Matthew 11:11) and the disciples of the Lord ( Luke 9:54). [Let us not forget that Isaiah was a true Prophet, and spoke as he was moved by the Spirit of God. The Apostle Paul did not find fault with the most terrible denunciations of judgment contained in the Old Testament, or affect a superiority over the men who uttered them. On the contrary, he quotes them as words which could not be suffered to fall, but which must be fulfilled in all their dreadful import. See e.g. Romans 11:9-10.—D. M.].

18. Isaiah 26:12. “It is a characteristic of true, sincere Christians, that they give God the glory and not themselves, and freely confess that they have nothing of themselves, but everything from God ( 1 Corinthians 4:7; Philippians 2:13; Hebrews 12:2).” Cramer.

19. Isaiah 26:16. The old theologians have many comforting and edifying thoughts connected with this place: “A magnet has the power to raise and attract to itself iron. Our heart is heavy as iron. But the hand of God is as a magnet. When that hand visits us with affliction, it lifts us up, and draws us to itself.” “Distress teaches us to pray, and prayer again dispels all distress. One wedge displaces the other.” “Ex gravibus curis impellimur ad pia vota.” “Ex monte myrrhae procedimus ad collem thuris ( Song of Solomon 9:6). In amaritudine crucis exsurgit odor devotae precationis ( Psalm 86:6 sq.).” “Ubi nulla crux et tentatio, ibi nulla vera oratio. Oratio sine mails est tanquam avis sine alis. Optimus orandi magister necessitas. Τὰ παθήματα μαθήματα. Quae nocent, docent. Ubi tentatio, ibi oratio. Mala, quae hic nos premunt, ad Deum ire compellunt. Qui nescit orare, ingrediatur mare.” “When the string is most tightly drawn, it sounds best. Cross and temptation are the right prayer-bell. They are the press by which God crushes out the juice of prayer.” Cramer and Foerster.

20. Isaiah 26:20. As God, when the deluge was about to burst, bade Noah go into his ark as into his chamber, and Himself shut the door on him ( Genesis 7:6); so does the Lord still act when a storm is approaching; He brings His own into a chamber where they can be safe, either for their temporal preservation and protection against every might ( Psalm 91:1), or, on the other hand, to give them repose by a peaceful and happy death.” “His anger endureth but a moment; in his favor is life ( Psalm 30:6).” Cramer.

21. [“Great and mighty princes [nations] if they oppose the people of God, are in God’s account, as dragons and serpents, and plagues of mankind; and the Lord will punish them in due time. They are too big for men to deal with, and call to an account; and therefore the great God will take the doing of it into His own hands.” Henry.—D. M.].

22. Isaiah 27:2-5. “It seems to the world that God has no concern for His church and Christians, else, we imagine, they would be better off. But certain it Isaiah, that it is not the angels but God Himself that will be watcher over this vineyard, and will send it gracious rain.” Veit Dietrich. [“The church is a vineyard of red wine, yielding the best and choicest grapes, intimating the reformation of the church, that it now brings forth good fruit unto God, whereas before it brought forth fruit to itself, or brought forth wild grapes, Isaiah 5:4.” “God takes care (1) of the safety of this vineyard; I the Lord do keep it. He speaks this, as glorying in it, that He Isaiah, and has undertaken to be, the keeper of Israel; those that bring forth fruit to God are, and shall be always, under His protection. (2) God takes care of the fruitfulness of this vineyard: I will water it every moment; and yet it shall not be over watered. We need the constant and continual waterings of the divine grace; for if that be at any time withdrawn, we wither and come to nothing.” Henry. D. M.].

23. Isaiah 27:4. “Est aurea promissio, qua praecedentem confirmat. Indignatio non est mihi, fury is not in me. Quomodo enim is nobis irasci potest, qui pro nobis est mortuus? Quanquam igitur appareat, eum irasci, non tamen est verum, quod irascatur. Sic Paulo immittitur angelus Satanae, sed non est ira, nam ipse Christus dicit: sufficit tibi gratia mea. Sic pater filium delinquentem castigat, sed non est ira, quanquam appareat ira esse. Custodia igitur vineae aliquando cogit Deum immittere speciem irae, ne pereat luxurie, sed non est ira. Est insignis textus, which we should inscribe on all tribulations: Non est indignatio mihi, non possum irasci. Quod autem videtur irasci est custodia vineae, ne pereas et fias securus. Luther. “In order to understand fully the doctrine of the wrath of God we must have a clear perception of the antithesis: the long-suffering of God, and the wrath of God, wrath and mercy.” Lange.

24. Isaiah 27:7-9. “Christ judges His church, i.e., He punishes and afflicts it, but He does this in measure. The sorrow and cross is meted out, and is not, as it appears to us, without measure and infinite. It is so measured that redemption must certainly follow. But why does God let His Christians so suffer? Why does He not lay the cross on the wicked? God answers this question and speaks: the sin of Jacob will thereby cease. That is: God restrains sin by the cross, and subdues the old Adam.” Veit Dietrich.

25. [“The application of this verse to a future restoration of the Jews can neither be established nor disproved. In itself considered, it appears to contain nothing which may not be naturally applied to events long past.” J. A. Alexander.—“This prediction was completely and entirely fulfilled by the return of the Jews to their own country under the decree of Cyrus.” Barnes.—D. M.].

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

1. On Isaiah 24:4-6. Fast-day sermon. Warning against dechristianization of the life of the people1) Wherein such dechristianization consists: a, transgression of the commandments that are in force; b, alteration of the commandments which are essential articles of the everlasting covenant, as e.g. removing of all state institutions from the basis of religion2) Its consequences: a, Desecration of the land (subjectively, by the spread of a profane, godless sentiment; objectively, by the secularization of relations hitherto held sacred); b, the curse consumes the land, Isaiah 24:4.

2. On Isaiah 25:1-5. The Lord, the refuge of the needy1) He has the power to help. This we perceive a, from His nature (Lord, God, Wonderful); b, from His deeds ( Isaiah 25:1 b, Isaiah 25:2). 2) He gives His strength even to the feeble, ( Isaiah 25:4). 3) These are thereby victorious, ( Isaiah 25:5).

3. On Isaiah 25:6-9. Easter Sermon, by T. Schaeffer (Manch. Gab. u. ein Geist III. p269):—“The glorious Easter-blessing of the Risen One: 1) Wherein it consists? 2) who receive it? 3) what are its effects? Christmas Sermon, by Romberg [ibid. 1869, p78): Our text represents to us Christmas joy under the image of a festive board. Let us consider, 1) the host; 2) the guests; 3) the gifts.”

4. On Isaiah 26:1-4. Concerning the church1) She is a strong city in which salvation is to be found2) The condition of having a portion in her is faith3) The blessing which she is instrumental in procuring is peace.

5. Isaiah 26:19-21. The comfort of the Christian for the present and future1) For the present the Christian is to betake himself to his quiet chamber, where he is alone with his Lord and by Him made cheerful and secure2) For the future he has the certain hope, a, that the Lord will judge the wicked, b, raise the believer to everlasting life.

6. Isaiah 27:2-9. How the Lord deals with His vineyard, the church1) Fury is not in Him towards it; 2) He protects and purifies it; 3) He gives it strength, peace and growth; 4) He chastens it in measure; 5) He makes the chastisement itself serve to purge it from sins.

Footnotes:

FN#1 - stronghold.

FN#2 - stronghold.

FN#3 - for the blast of the terrible ones was, etc.

FN#4 - triumphal song.


Verses 6-12

4. ZION AS THE PLACE OF THE FEAST GIVEN TO ALL NATIONS IN OPPOSITION TO MOAB, WHICH PERISHES INGLORIOUSLY

Isaiah 25:6-12

6 And in this mountain

Shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people

A feast of fat things,

A feast of wines on the lees,

Of fat things full of marrow,

Of wines on the lees well refined.

7 And he will [FN5]destroy in this mountain

The face of the covering [FN6]cast over all people,

And the vail that is spread over all nations.

8 He will swallow up death [FN7]in victory;

And the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces;

And the [FN8]rebuke of his people shall he take away

From off all the earth;

For the Lord hath spoken it.

9 And it shall be said in that day,

Lo, this is our God;

We have waited for him, and he will save us:

This is the Lord; we have waited for him,

We will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

10 For in this mountain shall the hand of the Lord rest,

And Moab shall be [FN9][FN10]trodden down under him,

Even as straw is[FN11] [FN12]trodden down for the dunghill.

11 And he shall spread forth his hands in the midst of them,

As he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands to swim:

And he shall bring down their pride

Together with the [FN13]spoils of their hands.

12 And the fortress of the high fort of thy walls shall he bring down,

Lay low, and bring to the ground,

Even to the dust.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

Isaiah 25:6. שְׁמָנִים מְמֻחָים are not fat pieces unmarrowed, but, on the contrary, fat pieces marrowy, yea provided with abundant marrow. If the stem מָחָה, from which ממחים comes, is to be regarded as not different from מָחָה to wipe away, and not as a denominative from מֹחַ marrow, we must assume as common fundamental signification “to rub, to spread over, to besmear.” But as then מְמֻחָה would be only what is covered over with fat, not what is in itself fat, the derivation from מֹחַ is in my opinion more probable. This Pual is found only here, and no other of the forms that occur has the signification “pinguem, medullosum esse.” Instead of מְמֻחִים we have מְמֻחָיִם, a verb לה֞ (מָחָה) being formed from מֹחַ and its third radical appearing after the manner of verbs לה֞ (comp. בְּעָיוּ,אֵתָיוּ, Isaiah 21:12). The object of employing this form is to increase the concord of sounds which is in Isaiah 25:6 so prominent.

Isaiah 25:7. In פני הלוט we have the genitive of identity, the covering being marked as that which forms the front view, as the foreside. The substantive לוֹט is found only here. The participle לוֹט is evidently chosen for the sake of assonance (comp. Isaiah 24:3). It is formed after the analogy of קוֹם, 2 Kings 16:7. Comp. Gesen. Gr., § 72, note1. מַסֵּכָה and נְסוּכהָ are not from נָסַךְ effundere, libare, but from another נָסַךְ whose radical meaning seems to be “to weave.” מַסֵּכָה is therefore properly a texture, a woven covering. The word is found besides Isaiah 28:20.

Isaiah 25:10. הִדּוּשׁ is as a verbal form quite abnormal and unexampled. It appears to me to be a changing of the regular infinitive form הִדּוֹשׁ into a nominal form, and is allied to forms such as הִתּוּךְ, Ezekiel 22:22, חִלּוּל, Leviticus 19:24. הדּוּשׁ would then be conculcatio, detrusio.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. After the hymn by which the Prophet had given expression to his subjective emotions, he returns to his objective representation of the future. He resumes the discourse broken off at Isaiah 24:23, whilst he further depicts what will happen on Mount Zion, and—in opposition to this—what will befall the wicked. What will take place on Mount Zion is of a twofold character, positive and negative. Positively, the Lord will prepare for all nations a feast consisting of the most precious articles of food and drink ( Isaiah 25:6). Negatively, He will first remove the covering which was hitherto spread over all nations ( Isaiah 25:7); Secondly, He will abolish death, wipe off all tears, and take away the reproach which His people had hitherto to endure on the whole earth ( Isaiah 25:8). While believers rejoice in the salvation prepared for them by Jehovah their God, to whom they can now point as to one who is not merely to be believed in, but to be seen in His manifested presence ( Isaiah 25:9), and whose hand bears and upholds all the glory of Mount Zion ( Isaiah 25:10 a), the Moabites, i.e., those who are represented by Moab, are cast like straw into the dung-hole on which they stand ( Isaiah 25:10 b). They will indeed work with the hands in order to rescue themselves, but their efforts will not save them from the most ignominious ruin, and their proud, high fortresses will be levelled to the ground, and crushed to dust ( Isaiah 25:11-12).

2. And in this mountain——refined.

Isaiah 25:6. “This mountain” points back to “Mount Zion,” Isaiah 24:23. Not only Israel, all nations will be collected on the mountain. There the Lord will prepare a feast for them. That it is a spiritual feast, and that it is not simply for one occasion, but that it will be a permanent, everlasting entertainment, is implied in the nature of the thing. For there everything will be spiritual; and when according to Isaiah 25:8. death will be forever abolished, there must, that the antithesis may be maintained, reign forever life, and everything which is the condition of life. This feast meets us elsewhere, both in the Old and in the New Testament, under various forms. In Exodus 24:11 it is related that Moses and the elders of Israel, after they had seen God, ate and drank on the holy mountain, which transaction we are by all means justified in regarding as a typical one. Comp. Psalm 22:27; Psalm 22:30; Isaiah 55:1; Isaiah 65:11 sqq. In the New Testament this holy feast given by God appears sometimes as the Great Supper ( Luke 14:16 sqq.), sometimes as the marriage of the king’s son ( Matthew 22:1 sqq.; Isaiah 25:1 sqq.), or the marriage of the Lamb ( Revelation 19:7; Revelation 19:9; Revelation 19:17 sqq, in which latter place the counterpart of this feast is set forth). It is remarkable that this most glorious, most spiritual feast is represented in so homely a way by the Prophet. This is a clear example of that law of prophecy according to which the future is always represented from the materials furnished by the present. The richest, strongest, most nutritious thing which Isaiah knew to be served up at an earthly feast, is employed as an image to set forth the heavenly banquet. This richest thing was the fat. Therefore the fat of the animals offered in sacrifice (flos carnis) was the chief constituent of the bloody offerings, especially of the Shelamim [E. V, peace offerings] ( Exodus 29:13-22; Leviticus 3:3-5; Leviticus 9-11; Leviticus 14-16; Leviticus 8:16; Leviticus 9:19 sqq.). We can therefore say: What God Himself formerly required of men, as the noblest part of the victims offered to Him, He now Himself as host offers to His redeemed upon His holy mountain. But the expression “fat” or “marrow” is used also in reference to the land and its vegetable products, to designate the finest. Thus it is said, Genesis 45:18, “ye shall eat the fat of the land;” Numbers 18:12, “all the fat of oil and all the fat of new wine and corn;” Deuteronomy 32:14, “the fat of kidneys of wheat.” That שֶמֶן can stand in this sense, we have already seen from other utterances of Isaiah 5:1; Isaiah 10:16; Isaiah 17:4; Isaiah 28:1-4. The most excellent drink accompanies the choicest food. That Isaiah designates this drink by שְׁמָרִים is owing to the endeavor to put as parallel to שֶׁמָנִים a word resembling it in sound. But the question arises, how can Isaiah call the most excellent wine שְׁמָרִים? This word seems primarily to denote a wine containing dregs, that Isaiah, turbid with dregs, therefore, a bad wine. But Isaiah manifestly understands by שְׁמָרִים wines which have lain a sufficient time on their lees. For the lees are not only the product of a process of purification, but also a reacting substance which contributes to heighten the strength, color and durability of the wine. A wine poured off from its lees too soon tastes too sweet and does not keep long. Cato, too, (De re rust. cap. 154) designates a wine that has lain long enough on its lees vinum faecatum. Comp. Gesenius,Thes., p1444, and his commentary on this place. The expression שְׁמָרִים (only plural) comes therefore from שָׁמַר, and שֶׁמֶר is primarily conservatio, the letting lie, then conservatum, that which is let lie (comp. Jeremiah 48:11). The plural denotes the multiplicity of the ingredients contained in the sediment. שְׁמָרִים is moreover used here metonymically; for it plainly signifies not the lees alone, but also the wine united with the lees. But we can not, of course, drink the lees united with the wine. This wine poured off from the lees must be percolated (מזקק only here in Isaiah).

3. And he will destroy——spoken it.

Isaiah 25:7-8. The covering here spoken of brings at once to mind the vail of Moses, Exodus 34:30 sqq. To the visible covering there corresponds an invisible one also, which lies on the heart. But when the Lord will take away the covering, He will first of all remove the covering of the heart, as Paul says, 2 Corinthians 3:16, “περιαιρεῖται τὸ κὰλυμμα.” Then will the external covering also fall off, and men will be capable of seeing the glory of the Lord face to face ( 1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 John 3:2). [All that the Prophet here says of a covering and vail must be understood metaphorically. A literal, external covering cast over the nations, distinct from a spiritual one, is not to be thought of. D. M.]. Isaiah 25:8. The second negative blessing is that the Lordswallows up death also. בִּלַּע occurs not unfrequently in Isaiah 3:12; Isaiah 9:15; Isaiah 29:3; Isaiah 49:19. It seems here and Isaiah 25:7 to denote more than that its object is removed, for then it could be placed somewhere else; but its object is to be conceived as existing no more. Paul tells us ( 1 Corinthians 15:26; 1 Corinthians 15:54) that death shall in this sense be swallowed up. When there is no death, there are no more tears. For tears flow, either in the case of the living, over that which leads to death; or in the case of survivors, over those who have suffered death. The Apostle John quotes in Revelation 7:17; Revelation 21:4, our place to prove that he regards the things which he saw as a fulfilment, not only of his own prophecy, but also of that spoken by Isaiah. He thus makes his own prophecy an echo or reproduction of the prophetic word of the Old Testament. Where sin and death have disappeared, there can be no more reproach, but only glory. There is a new earth: it is a dwelling-place of God with man; it has, therefore, become the place of the divine glory. Where then could there be upon it any more a place for the reproach of those who belong to the people of God? For the Lord hath spoken it. Comp. on Isaiah 1:2.

4. And it shall be said——rest

Isaiah 25:9-10 a. What follows is not a hymn, but a report of one. This is plain from the use of the impersonal אמר ( Isaiah 45:24; Isaiah 65:8). The hymn in Isaiah 25:1 sqq. came from the Prophet’s own mouth: this one is heard by him, and related with a brief statement of its leading thoughts. The redeemed now see the Lord in whom they have hitherto only believed (comp. Isaiah 25:7 and 1 John 3:2). That they see Him is clear from the expression הנֵּה זֶה (comp. Isaiah 21:9). The heathen, who believed in false gods, experience the very opposite. They are confounded when they must mark the vanity of their idols; but they who believe in Jehovah will after faith be rewarded with seeing; for they can point with the finger to their God as one who is really existent and present before the eyes of all, and can say: Our God is no illusion as your false gods; we and all see Him as truly existing, as Him who was and is to come, יהוה ( Exodus 3:14). Herein is their joy perfect ( John 15:11). ויושׁיענו is not “and He saves us,” but “that He may save us” (comp. Isaiah 8:11; Ew. § 347 a): That the joy for the experienced salvation is not transitory and delusive, but will be everlasting is confirmed by the sentence, For in this mountain shall the hand of the LORD rest,etc., Isaiah 25:10 a. The hand of Jehovah will settle upon this mountain, it will rest upon it ( Isaiah 7:2; Isaiah 11:2). But what the hand of Jehovah holds, stands fast for ever.

5. And Moab——to the dust.

Isaiah 25:10 b –12. In opposition to the high, triumphant joy of believers, the Prophet now depicts the lot of unbelievers. He mentions Moab as the representative of the latter. He cannot mean thereby the whole nation of Moab. For all nations partake of the great feast on the holy mountain ( Isaiah 25:6), from all nations the covering is taken off ( Isaiah 25:7), from all faces the tears are wiped away ( Isaiah 25:8). Moab consequently cannot be excluded. Even Jeremiah ( Jeremiah 48:47) leads us to expect the turning of the captivity of Moab in the latter days. It can therefore be only the Moab that hardens itself against the knowledge of God which will suffer the doom described in Isaiah 25:10 sqq. But if Moab, so far as it is hostile to God, has to bear this sentence, why not likewise the God-opposing elements from all other nations? Moab therefore stands for all. But why is Moab in particular named? The Moabites were remarkable for their unbounded arrogance. Jeremiah ( Isaiah 48:11) specifies as the cause of this arrogance the fact that they had, from the time when they began to be a people, dwelt undisturbed in their own land. Further, we must assume that the Prophet, when he began the sentence ( Isaiah 25:10 b), had before his mind the image which he uses ( Isaiah 25:10-11), and the whole series of thoughts attached to it. It Isaiah, moreover, probable that he chose the name Moab just for the sake of the image. According to Genesis 19:37 the father of the Moabites owed his birth to the incestuous intercourse of the eldest daughter of Lot with her father. An allusion to this fact has been always supposed to be contained in the name מוֹאָב. And this view is not destitute of philological support, comp. Ges.Thes., p774, sub voceמואב. The K’ri מוֹ מַדְמֵנָה lets us more clearly perceive why Isaiah made mention of Moab as the representative of the heathen world, and should, therefore, perhaps be preferred. But, whether we read מֵי or מוֹ, it is manifest that the Prophet wishes to express the idea “water of the dung-hole,” and that, alluding to the etymology of Moab, he has named the unbelievers of Moab as representatives of the unbelievers of all nations. Moab is therefore cast down ( Isaiah 28:27 sq.; Isaiah 41:15) under him (i.e., under the place on which he stood, comp. Exodus 16:29; Joshua 5:8; Joshua 6:5; Job 40:12; Amos 2:13). Straw is cast into the filthy water of the dung-hole, in order that it may be saturated by it, and rendered fitter for manure. Our interpretation of מו מ׳ is confirmed by the fact that מדמנה obviously contains an intentional allusion to the Moabite city מַדְמֵן ( Jeremiah 48:2). The person cast into the dung-hole seeks to save himself. We have therefore to suppose the hole to be of considerable extent. He spreads forth his hands as if to swim. But it is sorry swimming. The desperate struggle for life is thus depicted. The effort is unavailing. Moab must find an ignominious end in the impure element. The Lord presses Him down. Moab is elsewhere blamed for two evil qualities: 1) his pride, 2) his lying disposition ( Isaiah 16:6; Jeremiah 48:29). A corresponding punishment is inflicted: the lies, the artifices symbolized by the skilful motions of the hands (ארבות from אָרַבnectere, especially insidias struere) are of no avail. The haughty Moab (comp. נאוה here and Jeremiah 16:6) must perish in the pool of filthy water. The Lord humbles the proud by making disgrace an element of their punishment. That עִם signifies “in spite of” is not sufficiently attested. It can well retain here its proper signification “with;” for, in fact, Jehovah presses down not only the proud, but also the cunning and artful. The humbling of pride Isaiah, however, the main thing. This is therefore once more asserted, Jeremiah 25:13, without a figure in strong expressions. The phrase “the defence of the height of thy walls” for “the defence of thy high walls” is idiomatic Hebrew. Compensation for the adjective is sought in substantive forms (comp. Isaiah 22:7; Isaiah 30:30). Three verbs are used corresponding to the three substantives. If עד־עפר is not equivalent simply to לארץ, we must find in it the idea of being reduced to dust.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. Isaiah 24:2. “When general judgments take place, no distinction is observed between man and wife, master and servant, mistress and maid, learned and unlearned, noble and plebeian, clergy and laity; therefore let no one rely on any external prerogative or superiority, but let every one without distinction repent and forsake sin.”—Cramer. Though this is right, yet we must, on the other hand, remember that the Lord declares in reference to the same great event, “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left” ( Matthew 24:10 sq.). There is no contradiction in these two statements. Both are true: outward relations will make no difference; there shall be no respect of persons. But the state of the heart will make a difference. According to the inward character there will, in the case of those whose external position in the world is perfectly alike, be some who enter life, others whose doom is death.

2. Isaiah 24:5 sq. “The earth is burdened with sins, and is therefore deprived of every blessing. The earth must suffer for our guilt, when we have as it were spoilt it, and it must be subject to vanity for our sakes ( Romans 8:20). What wonder is it that it should show itself ungrateful toward us?”—Cramer.

3. Isaiah 24:13 sq. “Observe the small number of this remnant; here and there one who shall escape the common calamity (as Noah and his family, when the old world was drowned), who when all faces gather blackness, can lift up their head with joy. Luke 21:26-28.” Henry.—D. M.].

4. Isaiah 24:17-20. Our earth is a volcanic body. Mighty volcanic forces were active at its formation. That these are still in commotion in the interior of the earth is proved by the many active volcanoes scattered over the whole earth, and by the perpetual volcanic convulsions which we call earthquakes. These have hitherto been confined to particular localities. But who can guarantee that a concentration and simultaneous eruption of those volcanic forces, that Isaiah, a universal earthquake, shall not hereafter occur? The Lord makes express mention of earthquakes among the signs which shall precede His second coming ( Matthew 24:7; Mark 13:8; Luke 21:11). And in 2 Peter 3:5 sqq. the future destruction of the earth by fire is set over against the destruction of the old world by water. Isaiah in our place announces a catastrophe whose characteristic features will be that, 1) there will be no escape from it; 2) destructive forces will assail from above and below; 3) the earth will be rent asunder; 4) it will reel and totter; 5) it will suffer so heavy a fall that it will not rise again ( Isaiah 24:20 b). Is there not here a prophecy of the destruction of the earth by volcanic forces? And how suddenly can they break loose! The ministers of the word have every reason to compare this extreme exposedness of our earth to fire, and the possibility of its unexpectedly sudden collapse with the above-cited warnings of the word of God, and to attach thereto the admonition which is added in 2 Peter 3:11.

5. Isaiah 24:21. The earth is a part of our planetary system. It is not what it appears to the optical perception to be, a central body around which worlds of a different nature revolve, but it, together with many similar bodies, revolves round a common centre. The earth according to that view of the account of the creation in Genesis 1, which appears to me the true one, has arisen with all the bodies of our Solar system out of one primary matter, originally united, common to them all. If our Solar System is a well-ordered, complete organism, it must rest on the basis of a not merely formal, but also material unity; i.e., the separate bodies must move, not only according to a principle of order which governs all, but they must also as to their substance be essentially like. And as they arose simultaneously, so must they perish simultaneously. It is inconceivable that our earth alone should disappear from the organism of the Solar System, or pass over to a higher material condition. Its absence, or ceasing to exist in its previous form and substance, would necessarily draw after it the ruin of the whole system. Hence the Scripture speaks every where of a passing away and renovation of the heaven and the earth ( Psalm 102:26; Isaiah 51:6; Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22; Matthew 5:18; Matthew 24:29; Matthew 24:35; 2 Peter 3:7; 2 Peter 3:10; 2 Peter 3:13; Hebrews 12:26; Revelation 20:11; Revelation 21:1). The heaven that shall pass away with a great noise, whose powers shall be shaken, whose stars shall fall, is the planetary heaven. The same lot will happen to the companions of our earth, to the other planets, and to the centre, the sun, and to all other co-ordinate and subordinate stellar bodies, which will befall the earth itself. This is the substance of the view which serves as a basis for our place. But personal beings are not thereby by any means excluded from the צבא מרום. The parallel expression מלכי האדמה, and the use in other places of the related expression צבא השׁמים lead us rather to suppose personal beings to be included. But I believe that a distinction must be made here. As the heavenly bodies which will pass away simultaneously with the earth, can only be those which arose together with it, and which stand in organic connection with it, so also the angelic powers, which are judged simultaneously with us men, can be only those which stand in connection with the heavenly bodies of our Solar System, i.e., with the earthly material world. There are heavenly bodies of glorious pneumatic substance. If personal beings stand in connection with them, they must also be pure, glorious, resplendent beings. These will not be judged. They are the holy angels, who come with the Lord ( Matthew 25:31). But it is quite conceivable that all the bodies of our Solar System are till the judgment like our earth suffered to be the theatre of the spirits of darkness.

6. Isaiah 24:21-23, It seems to me that the Prophet has here sketched the chief matters pertaining to eschatology. For the passing away of heaven and earth, the binding of Satan ( Revelation 20:1-3), the loosing of Satan again ( Revelation 20:7), and finally the reign of God alone, which will make sun and moon unnecessary ( Revelation 21:23)—are not these the boundary-stones of the chief epochs of the history of the end of the world?

7. [“The Lord of hosts makes this feast. The provision is very rich, and every thing is of the best. It is a feast, which supposes abundance and variety; it is a continual feast to believers: it is their fault if it be not. It is a feast of fat things and full of marrow; so relishing, so nourishing are the comforts of the Gospel to all those that feast upon them and digest them. The returning prodigal was entertained with the fatted calf; and David has that pleasure in communion with God, with which his soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness. It is a feast of wines on the lees; the strongest-bodied wines, that have been long kept upon the lees, and then are well refined from them, so that they are clear and fine. There is that in the Gospel which, like fine wine, soberly used, makes glad the heart, and raises the spirits, and is fit for those that are of a heavy heart, being under convictions of sin, and mourning for it, that they may drink and forget their misery (for that is the proper use of wine; it is a cordial for those that need it, Proverbs 31:6-7) may be of good cheer, knowing that their sins are forgiven, and may be vigorous in their spiritual work and warfare, as a strong man refreshed with wine.” Henry.—D. M.]

8. Isaiah 25:9. “In the Old Testament the vail and covering were before men’s eyes, partly because they waited for the light that was to appear, partly because they sat in darkness and in the shadow of death ( Luke 1:79). The fulfilment of this prediction has in Christ already begun, and will at last be perfectly fulfilled in the Church triumphant where all ignorance and sorrow shall be dispelled ( 1 Corinthians 13:12).” Cramer.

9. Isaiah 25:8. “God here represents Himself as a mother, who presses to her bosom her sorrowful Song of Solomon, comforts him and wipes away his tears ( Isaiah 66:13). The righteous are to believe and appropriate this promise, that every one may learn to speak with Paul in the time of trial: the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us, Romans 8:18.” Cramer.

10. Isaiah 25:10. “This is now the hope and consolation of the church that the hand of the Lord rests on this mountain, that Isaiah, that He will be gracious, and let His power, help and grace be there seen and felt. But the unbelieving Moabites, i.e., the Jews, with all others who will not receive the gospel, shall be threshed to pieces as straw in the mire; these the Lord’s hand will not rescue, as it helps those who wait on Him, but it shall press them down so that they will never rise, according to the saying, Mark 16:16.” Veit Dietrich.

11. Isaiah 25 Three thoughts contained in this chapter we should hold fast: 1) When we see the world triumph over every thing which belongs to the Lord and His kingdom, when our hearts are anxious about the preservation in the world of the Church of Christ, which is sore oppressed, let this word of the Prophet comfort our hearts. The world-city which contains all that is of the world, sinks into the dust, and the church of Christ goes from her chains and bands into the state of freedom and glory. We have often seen that it is the Lord’s way to let every thing come to maturity. When it is once ripe, He comes suddenly with His sentence. Let us comfort ourselves therewith, for thus will it happen with the world and its dominion over the faithful followers of Christ. When it is ripe, suddenly it will come to an end2) No one who has a heart for the welfare of the nations can see without the deepest pain how all hearts are now seduced and befooled, and all eyes closed and covered. The simplest truths are no longer acknowledged, but the more perverse, brutal and mean views and doctrines are, the more greedily are they laid hold of. We cannot avert this. But our comfort is that even this seduction of the nations will reach its climax. Then men will come to themselves. The vail and covering will fall off, and the Gospel will shine with new light before the nations. Therewith let us comfort ourselves3) Till this happens, the church is sorrowful. But she shall be full of joy. The promise is given to her that she shall be fully satisfied with the good things of the house of the Lord. A life is promised to her which neither death nor any pain can affect, as she has rest from all enemies. The word of the Lord shall be fulfilled in her: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. The Church that has such a promise may wait in patient quietness for its accomplishment, and praise the Lord in affliction, till it pleases Him to glorify her before all nations.” Weber, The Prophet Isaiah. 1875.

12. Isaiah 26:1. “The Christian church is a city of God. God has built it, and He is the right Master-builder. It is strong: 1) on account of the Builder; 2) on account of the foundation and corner-stone, which is Christ; 3) on account of the bond wherewith the living stones are bound together, which is the unity of the faith.” Cramer. [The security and happiness of true believers, both on earth and in heaven, is represented in Scripture under the image of their dwelling in a city in which they can bid defiance to all their enemies. We dwell in such a city even now, Psalm 46:4-5. We look for such a city, Hebrews 11:10; Hebrews 11:16; Revelation 21—D. M.]

13. [These words may be taken as a description of the people whom God owns, who are fit to be accounted members of the church of the living God on earth, and who will not be excluded from the celestial city. Instead of complaining that only the righteous and the faithful will be admitted into the heavenly city, it should rather give us joy to think that there will be no sin there, that none but the just and true will there be found. This has been a delightful subject of reflection to God’s saints. The last words written by Henry Martyn were: “Oh! when shall time give place to eternity? When shall appear that new heaven and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness? There, there shall in no wise enter in any thing that defileth; none of that wickedness which has made men worse than wild beasts—none of their corruptions which add to the miseries of mortality shall be seen or heard of any more.”—D. M.]

14. Isaiah 26:4. “The fourth privilege of the church is trust in God the Rock of Ages, i.e., in Christ, who not only here, but also Matthew 16; 1 Corinthians 10; 1 Peter 2, is called a rock in a peculiar manner, because no other foundation of salvation and of the church can be laid except this rock, which is here called the rock of ages on account of the eternity of His being, merit and office. Hence a refutation can be drawn of the papistical fable which makes Peter and his successors, the Roman Pontiffs, to be the rock on which the church is built.” Foerster. [“Whatever we trust to the world for, it will be but for a moment. All we expect from it is confined within the limits of time; but what we trust in God for will last as long as we shall last. For in the Lord Jehovah, Jah, Jehovah, in Him who was, and Isaiah, and is to come, there is a rock of ages, a firm and lasting foundation for faith and hope to build upon; and the house built on that rock will stand in a storm.” Henry.”—D. M.]

15. Isaiah 26:5. “It is very common with the prophets, when they prophesy of the kingdom of Christ to make reference to the proud and to the needy, and to represent the latter as exalted and the former as brought low. This truth is directed properly against the self-righteous. For Christ and His righteousness will not endure spiritual pride and presumption; but the souls that are poor, that hunger and thirst for grace, that know their need, these Christ graciously receives.” Cramer.

16. Isaiah 26:6. “It vexes the proud all the more that they will be overcome by those who are poor and of no consequence. For example, Goliath was annoyed that a boy should come against him with a staff ( 1 Samuel 13:43) Cramer.

17. Isaiah 26:8-10. That the justice of God must absolutely manifest itself that the majesty of the Lord may be seen, and that the wicked may learn righteousness, must even from a new Testament view-point be admitted. But the New Testament disputes the existence of any one who is righteous when confronted by the law, and who is not deserving of punishment. [But that there is none righteous, no not one, is taught most emphatically in the Old Testament also.—D. M.]. But it (the New Testament) while it shuts up all, Jews and Gentiles, without exception, under sin ( Galatians 3:22; Romans 3:9; Romans 11:32), sets forth a scheme of mediation, which, while it renders full satisfaction to justice, at the same time offers to all the possibility of deliverance. This mediation is through the Cross of Christ. It is only when this mediation has not been accepted that punitive justice has free course. It should not surprise us that even the Evangelist of the Old Covenant, who wrote chap53, did not possess perfect knowledge of this mediation. Let us remember John the Baptist ( Matthew 3:7; Matthew 11:11) and the disciples of the Lord ( Luke 9:54). [Let us not forget that Isaiah was a true Prophet, and spoke as he was moved by the Spirit of God. The Apostle Paul did not find fault with the most terrible denunciations of judgment contained in the Old Testament, or affect a superiority over the men who uttered them. On the contrary, he quotes them as words which could not be suffered to fall, but which must be fulfilled in all their dreadful import. See e.g. Romans 11:9-10.—D. M.].

18. Isaiah 26:12. “It is a characteristic of true, sincere Christians, that they give God the glory and not themselves, and freely confess that they have nothing of themselves, but everything from God ( 1 Corinthians 4:7; Philippians 2:13; Hebrews 12:2).” Cramer.

19. Isaiah 26:16. The old theologians have many comforting and edifying thoughts connected with this place: “A magnet has the power to raise and attract to itself iron. Our heart is heavy as iron. But the hand of God is as a magnet. When that hand visits us with affliction, it lifts us up, and draws us to itself.” “Distress teaches us to pray, and prayer again dispels all distress. One wedge displaces the other.” “Ex gravibus curis impellimur ad pia vota.” “Ex monte myrrhae procedimus ad collem thuris ( Song of Solomon 9:6). In amaritudine crucis exsurgit odor devotae precationis ( Psalm 86:6 sq.).” “Ubi nulla crux et tentatio, ibi nulla vera oratio. Oratio sine mails est tanquam avis sine alis. Optimus orandi magister necessitas. Τὰ παθήματα μαθήματα. Quae nocent, docent. Ubi tentatio, ibi oratio. Mala, quae hic nos premunt, ad Deum ire compellunt. Qui nescit orare, ingrediatur mare.” “When the string is most tightly drawn, it sounds best. Cross and temptation are the right prayer-bell. They are the press by which God crushes out the juice of prayer.” Cramer and Foerster.

20. Isaiah 26:20. As God, when the deluge was about to burst, bade Noah go into his ark as into his chamber, and Himself shut the door on him ( Genesis 7:6); so does the Lord still act when a storm is approaching; He brings His own into a chamber where they can be safe, either for their temporal preservation and protection against every might ( Psalm 91:1), or, on the other hand, to give them repose by a peaceful and happy death.” “His anger endureth but a moment; in his favor is life ( Psalm 30:6).” Cramer.

21. [“Great and mighty princes [nations] if they oppose the people of God, are in God’s account, as dragons and serpents, and plagues of mankind; and the Lord will punish them in due time. They are too big for men to deal with, and call to an account; and therefore the great God will take the doing of it into His own hands.” Henry.—D. M.].

22. Isaiah 27:2-5. “It seems to the world that God has no concern for His church and Christians, else, we imagine, they would be better off. But certain it Isaiah, that it is not the angels but God Himself that will be watcher over this vineyard, and will send it gracious rain.” Veit Dietrich. [“The church is a vineyard of red wine, yielding the best and choicest grapes, intimating the reformation of the church, that it now brings forth good fruit unto God, whereas before it brought forth fruit to itself, or brought forth wild grapes, Isaiah 5:4.” “God takes care (1) of the safety of this vineyard; I the Lord do keep it. He speaks this, as glorying in it, that He Isaiah, and has undertaken to be, the keeper of Israel; those that bring forth fruit to God are, and shall be always, under His protection. (2) God takes care of the fruitfulness of this vineyard: I will water it every moment; and yet it shall not be over watered. We need the constant and continual waterings of the divine grace; for if that be at any time withdrawn, we wither and come to nothing.” Henry. D. M.].

23. Isaiah 27:4. “Est aurea promissio, qua praecedentem confirmat. Indignatio non est mihi, fury is not in me. Quomodo enim is nobis irasci potest, qui pro nobis est mortuus? Quanquam igitur appareat, eum irasci, non tamen est verum, quod irascatur. Sic Paulo immittitur angelus Satanae, sed non est ira, nam ipse Christus dicit: sufficit tibi gratia mea. Sic pater filium delinquentem castigat, sed non est ira, quanquam appareat ira esse. Custodia igitur vineae aliquando cogit Deum immittere speciem irae, ne pereat luxurie, sed non est ira. Est insignis textus, which we should inscribe on all tribulations: Non est indignatio mihi, non possum irasci. Quod autem videtur irasci est custodia vineae, ne pereas et fias securus. Luther. “In order to understand fully the doctrine of the wrath of God we must have a clear perception of the antithesis: the long-suffering of God, and the wrath of God, wrath and mercy.” Lange.

24. Isaiah 27:7-9. “Christ judges His church, i.e., He punishes and afflicts it, but He does this in measure. The sorrow and cross is meted out, and is not, as it appears to us, without measure and infinite. It is so measured that redemption must certainly follow. But why does God let His Christians so suffer? Why does He not lay the cross on the wicked? God answers this question and speaks: the sin of Jacob will thereby cease. That is: God restrains sin by the cross, and subdues the old Adam.” Veit Dietrich.

25. [“The application of this verse to a future restoration of the Jews can neither be established nor disproved. In itself considered, it appears to contain nothing which may not be naturally applied to events long past.” J. A. Alexander.—“This prediction was completely and entirely fulfilled by the return of the Jews to their own country under the decree of Cyrus.” Barnes.—D. M.].

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

1. On Isaiah 24:4-6. Fast-day sermon. Warning against dechristianization of the life of the people1) Wherein such dechristianization consists: a, transgression of the commandments that are in force; b, alteration of the commandments which are essential articles of the everlasting covenant, as e.g. removing of all state institutions from the basis of religion2) Its consequences: a, Desecration of the land (subjectively, by the spread of a profane, godless sentiment; objectively, by the secularization of relations hitherto held sacred); b, the curse consumes the land, Isaiah 24:4.

2. On Isaiah 25:1-5. The Lord, the refuge of the needy1) He has the power to help. This we perceive a, from His nature (Lord, God, Wonderful); b, from His deeds ( Isaiah 25:1 b, Isaiah 25:2). 2) He gives His strength even to the feeble, ( Isaiah 25:4). 3) These are thereby victorious, ( Isaiah 25:5).

3. On Isaiah 25:6-9. Easter Sermon, by T. Schaeffer (Manch. Gab. u. ein Geist III. p269):—“The glorious Easter-blessing of the Risen One: 1) Wherein it consists? 2) who receive it? 3) what are its effects? Christmas Sermon, by Romberg [ibid. 1869, p78): Our text represents to us Christmas joy under the image of a festive board. Let us consider, 1) the host; 2) the guests; 3) the gifts.”

4. On Isaiah 26:1-4. Concerning the church1) She is a strong city in which salvation is to be found2) The condition of having a portion in her is faith3) The blessing which she is instrumental in procuring is peace.

5. Isaiah 26:19-21. The comfort of the Christian for the present and future1) For the present the Christian is to betake himself to his quiet chamber, where he is alone with his Lord and by Him made cheerful and secure2) For the future he has the certain hope, a, that the Lord will judge the wicked, b, raise the believer to everlasting life.

6. Isaiah 27:2-9. How the Lord deals with His vineyard, the church1) Fury is not in Him towards it; 2) He protects and purifies it; 3) He gives it strength, peace and growth; 4) He chastens it in measure; 5) He makes the chastisement itself serve to purge it from sins.

Footnotes:

FN#5 - Heb. Swallow up.

FN#6 - Heb. covered.

FN#7 - for ever.

FN#8 - reproach.

FN#9 - Or, threshed.

FN#10 - be cast down.

FN#11 - Or, threshed in Madmenah.

FN#12 - cast down into the waters of the dunghole.

FN#13 - devices.

 


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.

Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Isaiah 25:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/isaiah-25.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, July 24th, 2019
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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