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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
Isaiah 25

 

 

Verse 1

THE GRAND APPROPRIATION

Isa . O Lord, Thou art my God.

I. THE CONNECTION BETWEEN GOD AND OURSELVES.

1. The Lord is our God in a necessary and absolute sense.

2. He should be our God by choice (H. E. I., 306, 307, 2381, 2385, 4630-4647, 4970).

3. If He is thus to become our God, it must be through the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the exercise of an appropriating faith (H. E. I., 1952).

II. THE ADVANTAGES WE MAY ANTICIPATE FROM THIS CONNECTION.

1. Light in darkness.

2. Guidance in perplexity.

3. Protection in danger.

4. Strength in duty.

5. Consolation in sorrow.

6. Sanctity and glory.

III. THE DUTIES ARISING OUT OF THIS CONNECTION.

1. We should exalt Him.

2. We should be jealous for His honour.

3. We must obey His commands.

4. We should acquiesce in His will.

5. We should seek our pleasure and satisfaction from Him.—John Corbin.


Verses 6-8

THE BLESSINGS OF THE GOSPEL

(Missionary Sermon.)

Isa . And in this mountain, &c.

What the spirit of prophecy has here recorded is the testimony of Jesus and of His salvation, the subject presented to our view being the blessings of the Gospel of the Son of God. They are described in their general nature, in their unrivalled excellence, and in their universal extent.

I. The blessings of the Gospel are here described in their general nature, as including instruction for the ignorant, consolation for the sorrowful, and life for the dead. They thus correspond to the state of man without the Gospel, which is a state of darkness, misery, and death.

1. The natural state of fallen man is a state of moral darkness. A veil is upon him, by which those things which make for his peace and essentially affect his well-being are hidden from his eyes. It is a triple veil.

(1.) There is the fold of native ignorance. The merely natural man is totally ignorant of God and eternity. He knows not whence he came or whither he is going. He is altogether "sensual, having not the Spirit," and cannot know those things of the Spirit of God which are only spiritually discerned. Hence, ever since the Fall, darkness has covered the earth and gross darkness the people.

(2.) There is the yet thicker fold of moral corruption. Sin has exactly the same tendency in each particular case as in the case of Adam. It darkens the understanding by its deceitfulness, as well as hardens the heart by its malignity. It tends to extinguish that candle of the Lord which shines in the conscience, and to render useless and unavailing those other means which God has provided for delivering us from the night of Nature. Those in whom it reigns choose the darkness rather than the light because their deeds are evil (cf. Eph ).

(3.) There is the fold of Satanic infatuation. "The whole world lieth in the wicked one." He rules in the hearts of all the children of disobedience; and his kingdom is the kingdom of delusion and darkness. He beguiled Eve through his subtilty, and he still labours to corrupt and darken the minds of men (2Co ).

All this is true of all the unregenerate, however diversified may be their external condition and local circumstances. Hence multitudes even of nominal Christians are fit objects of our compassionate care and exertion. But the description of the text is still more applicable to the case of heathen nations not yet visited by the Gospel. They have not the light which nominal Christians do not allow to shine into them; in general, they have no effectual light. Over them is cast the veil not merely of ignorance and sin, but of superstition and false religion, than which nothing can be more fatally opposed to the entrance of light and the operation of Divine grace. Their very systems of religion are the means of perpetuating folly and vice, instead of reclaiming them to wisdom and righteousness. In many cases that "religion" sanctions and prescribes the most cruel of sacrifices and the most licentious of rites. In Christendom men may be superstitious and wicked, licentious and cruel, but it is because they neglect their religion. In heathen and Mohammedan countries, they are so because they attend to their religion. They breathe its genuine spirit and exemplify its proper tendency. All that is deemed sacred and authoritative in the name of religion unites with all the ignorance and depravity of fallen man, and with all the subtilty and power of the Prince of Darkness to produce and perpetuate a system of error and iniquity. False religion may pretend to be a sun which enlightens, but it is really a veil which darkens all who come under its power—a veil much more effectual to favour the ravages of sin, misery, and death than even any of the coverings previously mentioned.

2. Man is described in the text as the child not only of darkness and error, but also of misery and death. For ignorance is the mother, not of devotion, but of sin, in all its multiplied forms. And sin is invariably linked to misery! The wretchedness of men bears an exact correspondence to their ignorance and wickedness (Rom ).

If this statement be true of natural men in general, it is still more awfully verified in the condition of the heathen world in particular. Infidel travellers who have cheated the public from time to time by highly-coloured pictures of the happiness of pagans, ought not on such a point to be believed. It cannot be that in the dark places of the earth, the habitations of cruelty, no groans should be heard, no tears be seen. The fact is, that while heathenism leaves its votaries to the unmitigated operation of all those natural and moral causes of distress which are common to man in general, it opens many new sources of misery, inflicts many additional desolations, creates many forms of terror, suffering, and destruction, which are peculiar to itself. All men are born to tears, because born in sin; but the tears of pagans are often tears of blood. Every groan they heave is big with double wretchedness.

The Gospel, in its provision of blessings for the human race, adapts itself to that state of darkness, wretchedness, and mortality which I have faintly described.

1. It removes darkness. It reveals to us the existence, character, and will of God, our own origin, immortality, and accountableness, the way of salvation and the path of duty; and, used by the Holy Spirit as His great instrument, it changes the heart of those who receive it, and delivers them from the delusions and dominion of Satan. In these several ways does the Gospel become the instrument of illumination. By it, and in connection with it, God destroys the covering which is naturally on men's faces, and the veil that is spread over their understandings and hearts. The consequence is, in instances innumerable, that "beholding as in a glass," with unveiled face, "the glory of the Lord, they are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."

The glorious diffusion of light and purity which results from Christianity is still more striking when it obtains access to heathen nations. In proportion to the deeper gloom of their former ignorance is the splendour of the new illumination, when the Sun of righteousness arises upon them with healing in His beams. On such occasions, it may be said with peculiar emphasis, "The entrance of Thy Word giveth light,"—a light which is able to penetrate and destroy even the thickest veil of false religion.

2. It wipes away tears. This is here declared to be a part of its design, and experience proves it to be one of its actual operations (Psa ). It leads to repentance, and so to pardon, purity, and genuine peace. It comforts in sorrow. It cheers in death.

To the heathen it is peculiarly valuable and welcome. It opens to them, in common with others, the sources of spiritual enjoyment and the hopes of eternal bliss. And besides, it abolishes pagan cruelties and diffuses principles of humanity and kindness. Hence result the amelioration of their civil institutions, the increase of domestic happiness, and the improvement of social life (H. E. I. 1122-1133).

3. It swallows up death in victory. It delivers every believer from the fear of death (Heb ; H. E. I. 1109-1111, 1589, 1594). God will most gloriously swallow up death in victory when He shall actually recover from the territories of the grave, by His almighty power, those spoils which death has won.

In proportion to its progress in heathen countries, the Gospel will not merely extract the sting of death, but arrest and diminish its most awful ravages. The waste of human life in many pagan lands is incalculable. As true religion increases, even in Christian countries, wars, which it has already rendered less sanguinary, will be less frequent too (chap. Isa ).

II. The unrivalled excellence of the blessings of the Gospel. "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." Variety! richness! abundance! (See pp. 253-256.) Who does not recognise, in the unrivalled excellence of the blessings the Gospel conveys, the most powerful arguments for missionary exertion? Who can think of the Gospel feast, in contrast with the famine of the heathen, without wishing that they also might be bidden to the heavenly entertainment?

III. The universal extent of the blessings of Christianity. "The Lord of hosts shall make unto all people a feast of fat things."

1. They are adapted to all people.

2. They are sufficient for all people.

3. They were designed for all people.

4. The wide world shall, sooner or later, partake of them.

One result of this universal spread and triumph of Christianity is stated in the text: "The rebuke of His people shall He take away from off all the earth."

1. By the successful exertions of God's people to evangelise the world, the reproach, which is at present too well-founded, of neglecting to care for those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, shall become no longer just and applicable.

2. In consequence of the general spread and influence of Christianity, the reproach of Christ, the scandal of the Cross, shall cease; and the Church, formerly despised and laughed to scorn, shall be held in great honour and reputation (chap. Isa ).

3. The particular reproach of spiritual barrenness—the reproach founded on the paucity of her converts, and the small number of her children—shall then for ever cease. At present "Jacob is small," and the flock of Jesus is, comparatively, a little flock. This fact has been converted by infidels into matter of attack upon Christianity itself. They have tauntingly urged the narrow extent of our religion as an argument against its divinity. That argument admits, even now, of solid refutation. But in due season the fact itself shall be altered, and no shadow of plausibility be left for the reproach (chap. Isa ).

CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS.

1. The text should teach you your personal obligations and privileges in reference to the Gospel. The feast is spread out before you; to you are the blessings of it freely offered (chap. Isa ).

2. The text teaches you the ground of missionary exertions. To partake of the feast ourselves is our first duty; but, while we "eat the fat and drink the sweet," shall we not "send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared?" Can any duty be more obviously founded in reason and justice, humanity and piety, than that of sending the bread of life to our perishing fellow-creatures? The most hateful and inexcusable of all monopolies is the monopoly of Christian truths and consolations.

3. There are great encouragements to such labour.

(1.) The certainty of Divine approbation.

(2.) The certainty of consequent success (H. E. I. 1166-1168). But remember, if you would share in the triumphs of the Gospel, you must share in the labour and expense of their achievement.—Jabez Bunting, D.D.: Sermons, vol. i. pp. 453-483.


Verse 9

ADVENT THOUGHTS AND JOYS

Isa . And it shall be said in that day, &c.

Isaiah is here, as he is so often, the prophet not merely of future events, but of future states of mind and feeling; not merely of God's dealings with His people, but of the way in which they would or should meet their God.

To what event does he refer!

2. But beyond the immediate present, Isaiah sees, it may be indistinctly, into a distant future. The judgment of his time foreshadowed some universal judgment upon all the enemies of mankind, some deliverance final, universal, at the end of time. For that judgment and deliverance the Church, both on earth and in heaven, waits and prays (Psa ; Psa 74:22-23; Rev 6:9-10). To them the answer seems to be long delayed; but it will come (Rev 6:12-17); and when at last it bursts upon the world, it will be welcomed by the servants of God as was the deliverance of Jerusalem from the Assyrian army.

3. But between the days of Hezekiah and the final judgment there is another event closer to the prophet's thought—the appearance of the great Deliverer in the midst of human history. All that belongs to the nearer history of Judah melts away in the prophet's vision into that greater future which belongs to the King Messiah. The Assyrians themselves are replaced in his thoughts by the greater enemies of humanity; the city of David and Mount Zion become the spiritual city of God, the mountain of the Lord of hosts, the Church of the Divine Redeemer. Here, as so often, the incarnation of the eternal Son of God, with its vast and incalculable consequences to the world of souls, is the keynote of Isaiah's deepest thought, and in our text he epitomises the heart-song of Christendom, which ascends day by day to the throne of the Redeemer.

(1.) "Lo, this is our God." Christ is not for us Christians merely or chiefly the preacher or herald of a religion of which another being, distinct from Himself, is its object. The Gospel creed does not run thus, "There is no God but God, and Christ is His prophet." When He appears to the soul of man at the crisis of its penitence, or its conversion, the greeting which meets and befits Him is not, "Lo, this is a good man sent from God to teach some high and forgotten moral truths;" no, but "Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him; He will save us!" (H. E. I., 835-845).

(2.) So might the Jews, the children of the prophets, have sung; so did some of those who entered most deeply into the meaning of the promises given to their fathers (Luk ; Luk 1:68-79; Luk 2:29-32).

(3.) So might the noble philosophers of Greece have sung; so they did sing when, in Christ the incarnate God, of whom they had dreamed and for whom they had sought, was revealed to them.

(4.) So have sung in all ages that multitude of human souls whom a profound sense of moral need has brought to the feet of the Redeemer (H. E. I., 948-971).—H. P. Liddon, M.A.: Christian World Pulpit, vol. xiii. pp. 1-3.

I. WHAT ARE THOSE COMINGS OF CHRIST WHICH ARE THE OCCASION OF JOY TO THE CHURCH?

1. His coming in the flesh, His incarnation. To this His people had looked forward; in it they rejoiced. Good cause had they for gladness, for He came to spread the gospel feast, to remove the clouds of ignorance and error, to destroy the reign of sin and death.

2. His coming in the Spirit, at the day of Pentecost; in the experience of the individual soul, in the hours of penitence, of temptation, of sorrow. His coming in the flesh was the great promise of the Old Testament; His coming in the Spirit is the great promise of the New.

3. His coming to receive the soul to glory. He comes unchanged. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.

4. His coming to bring the present dispensation to a close. It may be heralded by many alarming and distressing events, but it will be itself a cause for joy. To the wicked it will be a day of unmixed terror, but to the righteous of gladness; for it will bring them redemption from the power of every sin, from the assault of every enemy; every fetter will be broken, every cloud dispelled.

II. WHAT IS REQUISITE TO ENABLE US TO WELCOME THE APPROACH OF CHRIST?

1. A knowledge of Him as our God and Redeemer.

2. An experience of the benefits of His salvation.

3. Love for Him.

4. Submission to His will and zeal for His glory.—Samuel Thodey.

I. In the day of judgment nothing will inspire us with joy and confidence but a real interest in Jesus Christ. The ungodly now possess many sources of present enjoyment; but in that day they will have ceased for ever. One grand, all-important idea will then fill the mind: "The solemn day of account is come; how shall I abide it? How shall I endure the presence of the heart-searching Judge?" But whence can this assurance be obtained? Only from an interest in Jesus Christ. Those who do not possess it will then be filled with shame and terror; but, amid all its terrors, those who do possess it will be enabled to rejoice.

II. In that day none will be found to have a real interest in Christ, nor capable of rejoicing, but those who are now waiting for His coming. This is a characteristic of all genuine Christians (1Th ; Tit 2:13; 1Co 1:7; Luk 12:36). Hence, in our text, we find the saints representing their conduct towards the Lord in the days of their flesh by the same term: "We have waited for Him." It may be useful, then, to point out some of the particulars implied in this general description of the Christian character. To "wait for Christ" implies—

1. A FIRM BELIEF IN HIS SECOND COMING, and of the infinitely momentous consequences which will follow that event. The true Christian walks "by faith, not by sight." Unlike the profane (2Pe ), he lays it down in his mind as an infallible truth that "the day of the Lord will come."

2. A CONSTANT ENDEAVOUR TO BE PREPARED FOR IT. How the wise virgins acted (Mat ).

3. A PATIENT CONTINUANCE IN WELL-DOING (Luk ). Are you thus "waiting" for the second coming of your Lord?—Edward Cooper: Practical and Familiar Sermons, vol. iv. pp. 225-240.

The chapter from which these words are taken contains a noble description of the glory and the grace of God, of His glory in ruling irresistibly the nations of the earth, and in crushing the enemies of His Church, of His glory and grace in the salvation of mankind. It records by anticipation the triumphs of the Gospel, the downfall of the powers of darkness, the annihilation of death itself, the reign of perpetual peace and joy.

I. A recognition of the birth of the Messiah. It is a matter of historical certainty that the people of God did wait for the coming of the Saviour from the time of the very first promise given to the woman after the fall, to the period of our Lord's appearance upon the earth, at which season there was a general expectation in all the neighbouring regions of the advent of some mighty personage who was to realise all the sublime descriptions of the ancient prophets. Anna the prophetess, Joseph of Arimithea, the aged Simeon and other devout men, were waiting for the "consolation of Israel."

II. An assertion of His divinity. "This is our God,"—not merely a prophet, a priest, a king, chosen by Jehovah from among His people, and commissioned to give laws and statutes, as Moses was, or to assert Jehovah's authority and punish idolatry, as Elijah was, or to denounce His wrath against an apostate people and at the same time to foreshadow a great deliverance to come, as Isaiah was himself, or Jeremiah, or any other of those holy men who spake in old times by the Holy Ghost; but this is OUR GOD, this is Emmanuel—God with us—God manifest in the flesh.

III. A declaration of His atoning Work. How vast that work He took on Himself to execute,—the reconciliation in His own person of sinful man to an offended God, the overthrow of the kingdom of Satan, and the abolition of death! No man could have performed it (Psa ). Could any of the angels, then, have taken in hand this enterprise? Beyond the power, above the conception of any being of limited goodness, knowledge, and power, it could only be accomplished by the Divine Son of God. It was God's work, devised and executed by Omnipotence.

IV. A recognition of the second coming of Christ. We are admonished by the Church that there is a Second Coming of Christ, for which the Church is waiting, and for which we, with every member of the Church, ought to be looking with earnest and anxious expectation. Is our language, "How long, O Lord?" Our answer is, How long the final triumph of the Saviour may be deferred, how long a period may elapse before the world is ripe for judgment, is one of those secrets which God has reserved to Himself (Act ). The end of all things, if it be not, in the literal sense of the word, at hand, is every year and every day and every moment drawing nearer to each of us. We are all in silent but unceasing movement towards the judgment-hall of Christ. In this point of view, the moment of our death may be regarded as placing us at once before His awful tribunal, for the space between the two, as it affects our eternal destination, will be to us as nothing. When the judgment is set, the books opened, we shall suddenly stand before the Judge, precisely in that state of preparation in which we were found at the moment of our departure out of life. Those who have lived as children of God, as servants of Jesus Christ, under the solemn, yet not fearful, expectation of that day, will then be able to lift up their heads and raise the song of joyful recognition.

Application.—If ever there was a great practical truth, this is one. If we do not wait for the great day of the Lord in such a spirit of carefulness and circumspection as to refer to it all our actions, words, and thoughts, then it is perfectly certain that we shall be surprised at its coming and be taken utterly unprepared. It will come on us as a thief in the night, and we shall sink into everlasting perdition; not for the want of means and opportunities of being saved, but for want of common prudence and forethought in the most momentous of all concerns. What, then, is the conclusion? Live like men that are waiting for their Lord, that when He arrives, He may be welcomed. Accustom yourselves to His presence, in His sanctuary, at His table, in His word, in secret communings with Him in the temple of a purified heart. So when this solemn day shall have come the glad response may be, "Lo, this is our God, we have waited for Him; He will come and save us!"—C. J. Blomfield, D.D.


Verse 10

THE PROTECTING HAND

Isa . For in this mountain shall the hand of the Lord rest.

"Rest!" As a father's hand on the head of his first-born, blessing and protecting his child. That mountain is impregnable which rests under the shadow of God's hand.

I. Of every enterprise we should ask, "Is it right?" If wickedness be in "the mountain," God's protecting hand will not rest upon it. A just cause creates a good conscience, and hence inspires strength. It is only the just man who feels that God "teaches his hands to war and his fingers to fight, so that a bow of steel is broken by his arms." "The righteous is bold as a lion." The good man can patiently wait and confidently expect God's blessing (Jas ).

II. Material force allied with injustice will eventually become weak as straw, vile as a dung-heap. The strong places of Moab had no inherent lastingness, because built in a godless spirit (Psa ).

III. Forts and castles, ironclads and armies, can never save an unrighteous nation from decay. National selfishness, oppressive enterprises, weaken the strongest defences, corrupt the richest treasures. Babylon became a marsh, Nineveh a forsaken mound, Tyre a deserted rock. In the colloseum at Rome where martyrs bled, the fox, the bat, and the owl now make their home. The walls of Moab were levelled with the dust. By justice only can peoples be strong. If God be in the city, its walls will be lasting as the hills.—William Parkes.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Isaiah 25:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/isaiah-25.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

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