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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
Isaiah 49

 

 

Introduction

CHAP. XLIX.

Christ, being sent to the Jews, complaineth of them: he is sent to the Gentiles with gracious promises. God's love is constant to the faithful. The ample restoration of the church. The powerful deliverance out of captivity.

Before Christ 712.

THE fifth, last, and most excellent part of Isaiah's prophesies begins, according to Vitringa's division, at this chapter, and is divided into five discourses; the first of which is contained in chap. Isaiah 49:1 to Isaiah 50:3. The second in chap. Isaiah 1:4, &c. and chap. 51. The third in chap. 52-60. The fourth in chap. Isaiah 61-62. The fifth in chap. 63-66. The first discourse consists of three parts, which contain as many apostrophes or addresses; the first apostrophe or address is of the Messiah, Jesus the great teacher and Saviour, to the Gentiles; wherein we have first an exordium, calling upon the Gentiles to listen and attend; Isaiah 49:1. Secondly, a description of his person, and of the office to which he was appointed of his Father, by a solemn vocation: middle of Isaiah 49:1-3. A complaint of the small success of his function among the Jews, Isaiah 49:4 and an enarration of the great plan of redemption, whereby he was constituted the Teacher and Saviour, not only of the Jews, but also of the Gentiles; Isaiah 49:5-6. The second address is of the Father to the Messiah, considered either in himself, or in his mystical body, the church of the believing Jews, at the beginning of the Gospel; wherein we have, first, a consolatory proposition, comforting him, in his state of humiliation, with the certainty of the glory to follow it, Isaiah 49:7. Secondly, a setting forth of the proposition, wherein the magnificent promise concerning the glorious state and great success of the Gospel is delivered more at large, Isaiah 49:8-9 and the state of the people, joined to the church from among the Gentiles, as well as their continual increase, is described; middle of Isaiah 49:9-12. A congratulatory epiphonema from a chorus of believers is subjoined here, Isaiah 49:13. The third address is of God the Father, by his Spirit, to the whole body of the church, afflicted and persecuted at the beginning of the Gospel; wherein we have, first, a complaint of the church, as if neglected by God; Isaiah 49:14. Secondly, a gracious and consolatory reply from God, adapted to this complaint; first, general, wherein God assures her of his true and singular regard, Isaiah 49:15-16.; secondly, particular, wherein God informs her of the great and wonderful increase of her state, which should follow in a short time: this is comprehended in various articles: Isaiah 49:17-23. The prophet then answers an objection which might be raised against this comfort, from the power of Satan, and the extent of his empire in the world; Isaiah 49:24-26 and also a second objection concerning the divorcement of the synagogue, together with the destruction of the Jewish state by the Romans: chap. Isaiah 50:1-3. From this analysis, from the preceding prophesies, and from a view of the gospel-history, this last part of the book of Isaiah will be easily understood. We may just remark, however, as a general observation, that in speaking of the redemption by the Messiah, and the prosperous or afflicted state of the Christian church, the prophet frequently uses expressions taken from the redemption of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, and the state of the church about the time of Antiochus Epiphanes.


Verses 1-3

Isaiah 49:1-3. Listen, O isles In these verses we have first the exordium to the isles, and far distant people, that is to say, the Gentiles, who are frequently addressed by the appellation of isles, as we have had occasion to observe before. He who makes the address, namely, Jesus the Messiah, is sufficiently evident from the description of his person and office immediately following. His person,—The Lord hath called me before the womb [that is to say, before I was in the womb]; before I was in the bowels of my mother, he hath made mention of my name. St. Peter says of the Messiah, that he was thus called or mentioned before the foundation of the world. His prophetical office is next described in Isaiah 49:2. The meaning of which, out of the metaphor, is, "God hath ordained and appointed me, as a powerful teacher, whose instructions and convictions should penetrate deeply, and subdue the adversaries of my doctrine." So it is said of the Son of God in the Revelation 1:16. That out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword; and chap. Isaiah 2:16. I will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. In the shadow of his hand hath he hid me; that is, "I have, as it were, been thus to this time hidden with God by his wisdom and providence, like a sword which is concealed in the scabbard: but, drawn forth from the scabbard in these latter times of the world, I appear as the teacher of truth, enforcing with mighty power my doctrines upon the minds of men." See Romans 16:25-26. The next clause is analogous to that preceding, and to the same purpose. His mediatorial office is set forth in the third verse, wherein the Messiah says, that the Father had said to him, Thou art my servant; that is, "I have designed thee alone, the man Christ Jesus; and have prepared thee as the mediator of mankind; on this condition, that thou shouldst be my servant; namely, to undergo the severest servitude; subjecting thyself to death, even the death of the cross, to sanctify and glorify my name by thy bitter sufferings, in the stead of lost mankind. Thou, therefore, art Israel; the only one among all the true Israelites, who art to exhibit in thyself all the characters of thy father Jacob, who, wrestling with God, prevailed; saved himself and his house, and therefore obtained the name of Israel." See Isaiah 49:5-6.


Verse 4

Isaiah 49:4. Then I said, &c.— These words contain the complaint of the Son of God, concerning the small fruit of his mission to the Jews, and the small hope of establishing and successfully propagating his kingdom among them; similar to that which is attributed to the same great teacher and his apostles, ch. Isaiah 53:1. But at the same time he supports himself with the hope, that he should obtain a glorious and abundant fruit of his divine mission in the world; for that his judgment or right was with God, and the reward of his work laid up with him. Bishop Lowth reads the verse, And I said, I have laboured in vain; for nought, and for vanity, I have spent my strength: nevertheless my cause is with JEHOVAH and the reward of my work with my God.


Verse 5-6

Isaiah 49:5-6. And now, saith the Lord This passage is connected with the whole preceding period, and with each part of it; for the Messiah, in the beginning of this discourse, Isaiah 49:1-2 having addressed the Gentiles, and called upon them to hear him, as an eminent teacher, he instructs them in these words, that he did this by the command of the Father, who had promised to him the glory of bringing the Gentiles to the obedience of faith, after he, as his servant, had proved his obedience to the Father as his Lord; which glory is here set forth as the greatest. Again, as the Messiah had taught in what follows, Isaiah 49:3 that God had appointed him as his distinguished servant to effect great and glorious things, and thence had related the small fruit of his ministry among the Jews, yet had signified at the same time that he was well persuaded of an abundant reward for his labours—he hence takes occasion to declare this grand plan of salvation, as well to shew the foundation of his hope and confidence in the future reward, as to teach obliquely, that the incredulity of the Jewish nation was to be considered as the occasional cause of the calling of the Gentiles to the dispensation of the Gospel. This period, therefore, contains a declaration of the two-fold honourable condition which is here proposed by the Father to the Messiah, with respect to the two-fold object for whose conversion and salvation he was to labour, by the will of the Father; namely, the Jewish people, and the Gentile world, to be brought by him to the communion of the blessing of Abraham: which conditions are so proposed and described, as at the same time to comprehend the office, and the honour as a consequence and reward of that office. The former part, which respects the Jews, is contained in Isaiah 49:5.; the latter, which respects the Gentiles, in Isaiah 49:6. A parenthesis is placed between each, at the end of Isaiah 49:5 wherein a reason is given why so great and honourable an office is proposed to him, namely, because he was glorious in the eyes of the Lord; and by what means he should be sufficient for the discharge of so great an office, because God was his strength. Bishop Lowth renders the 5th verse, And now thus saith JEHOVAH (who hath formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring back again Jacob unto him, and that Israel unto him may be gathered: therefore am I glorious in the eyes of JEHOVAH, and my God is my strength;) it is a small thing for thee, &c. It is as absurd as it is vain in the Jews, says Bishop Newton, to apply these prophesies to the proselytes whom they have gained among the nations; for the number of their proselytes was very inconsiderable, by no means suited to answer these pompous descriptions. Neither was their religion ever designed by its founder for an universal religion, their worship and sacrifices being confined to one certain place. There was indeed to be a religion which was designed for all nations, to be preached in all, and to be received in all; but what prospect was there that such a generous institution should proceed from such a narrow-minded people as the Jews; or, that the Gentiles, who hated and despised them, should ever receive a religion from them? Was it not much more likely that they should be corrupted by the example of all the nations around them, than that they should be the happy instruments of reforming the world, and converting some of all nations to the worship of the one only God in spirit and in truth? A revolution of this kind was certainly improbable; but, however great the improbability of it was at the time of the prophesy, let the planting of the Gospel, and the present state of christianity show whether it has not been partly fulfilled. See Dissert. vol. 1: p. 236.


Verse 7

Isaiah 49:7. Thus saith the Lord We have here a new preface, containing a consolatory address of God the Father, directed to the Messiah, and his mystical body, the church of the first believers; which, persecuted, despised, and exposed to the public hatred and envy, is supported with the strong consolation to be drawn from the exceeding honour which in due time it should obtain in the world, proposed in this verse, and declared at large in the subsequent ones. The titles of Redeemer and Holy One of Israel are frequently applied to the Father, as well as to the Son, by the prophets. It is the office of the Father to fulfil the promises given to the Son and his mystical body, which are here addressed by three epithets; Him who is despised of men;—him who is abhorred by the nation [of the Jews];—a servant of rulers; whereby is to be understood Christ, in his first and persecuted church; for "it is very frequent in Scripture to mention Christ and his church as one person, to whom some things are attributed which pertain only to the head, some which pertain only to the body, and some which pertain to both:" a rule which is of great use in interpreting the Scriptures. We may render the latter part of the verse, Kings shall see, and shall rise up; princes, and they shall worship; because of the Lord, who is faithful; the Holy One of Israel, who hath chosen thee. Kings shall see, and arise, refers to Isaiah 49:6 namely, at the light and salvation discovered by the Messiah. See chap. Isaiah 60:3 and the 23rd verse of this chapter.


Verses 8-12

Isaiah 49:8-12. Thus saith the Lord In this period the general promises given to the Messiah and his mystical body, Isaiah 49:7 are more fully explained. In the first place, the desirable success of the Gospel, in converting the Gentiles, is described, as well as the church which would be collected from the Gentiles, Isaiah 49:8.—middle of Isaiah 49:9.: then the flourishing state of this collected church in a spiritual view. The passages will be clearer from the following alterations of the version, Isaiah 49:8. Thus saith the Lord, In an acceptable time will I hear thee, and in a day of salvation will I help thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to raise up the earth, and to parcel out, or, give possession of, the desolated heritages: Isaiah 49:9. By saying to the prisoners, Go forth; and to those who are in darkness, Come into light: they shall be by the highways, &c.: Isaiah 49:10. Even to the springs, &c.: Isaiah 49:11. And my causeways, or [lower] roads, shall be exalted: Isaiah 49:12. Behold, they shall come from far; and behold, those, &c. and these from the land of the Pelusiots, or Egyptians. See ch. Isaiah 42:6-7. The spiritual reference of this passage to Gospel privileges is sufficiently evident. We may just observe, that in the description of the flourishing state of the church, the prophet speaks of those delivered from prison and darkness, under the metaphor of a flock feeding in commodious pastures under the care of a faithful shepherd, guarded by him from the burning heat of the sun, and supplied by him with food and water sufficient for all their desires. The convenience of spiritual pasture is set forth in the latter part of the 9th verse; the sufficiency and abundance of that pasture in the words, they shall not hunger nor thirst, Isaiah 49:10.; their immunity from affliction and persecution in the next words; and their wonderful increase, under the protection and favour of God, in Isaiah 49:11-12. We may just remark, that St. John, in the Revelation, applies these words of the prophet to the time of the sixth seal.


Verse 13

Isaiah 49:13. And will have mercy And hath had mercy.


Verses 14-16

Isaiah 49:14-16. But Zion said The Holy Spirit here proceeds to comfort the afflicted church more particularly, taking occasion from the consolatory period immediately preceding, with which the present is connected: But Zion hath said,—"These things being so, saith the Lord, the church being blessed with so many excellent promises, what cause hath it of complaint? Why does it not rather, from the hope before it, express the greatest joy? But indeed, so far from this, it pours forth its complaints of the neglect of my providence towards it." There is nothing difficult in the words of the complaint; Isaiah 49:14. The time to which it alludes, according to Vitringa, was that of the cruel persecution of the church under the Romans, in the first days of Christianity. A general and very affectionate consolation, consisting of two articles, is subjoined in the 15th and 16th verses, which cannot fail at all times to give the highest comfort to believers. The image in the 15th verse, it is true, is common and frequent; yet it is wrought up with so much grace, embellished with so much elegance, and expressed in such pathetic terms, that nothing can exceed it in beauty or force; nothing can convey a stronger idea of the maternal, the more than maternal regard, which God hath for his believing people. The turn at the end is more expressive than a volume; Yea, they may forget, yet will I never forget thee. The article in the 16th verse will be better understood, when we recollect that it was customary among the eastern nations, to burn, or otherwise to imprint upon their hands, not only the names, but likewise the representation of the walls and forts of cities; and, in order to render the drawing lasting and indelible, they were wont to use the juice of henna, or cypress, to impress the idea of them the stronger. Jehovah is described as making use of this expedient of imprinting the picture of the sacred city on his hands, that he might continually have it before his eyes, always in his care and memory. See Bishop Lowth's Prelections, p. 139. Michaelis's notes, and Vitringa.


Verses 17-23

Isaiah 49:17-23. Thy children shall make haste General promises comfort the afflicted less than particular ones: the prophet therefore proceeds to these, which are drawn from the future benefits to be conferred by God upon the church; four of which are here more especially enumerated: first, a deliverance from internal enemies, hurtful to its state, in Isaiah 49:17; which, according to Bishop Lowth, and after the LXX should be rendered, They shall soon become thy builders, who have overthrown thee; and they who have destroyed thee shall come out of thee; that is, "There shall be no more within thee persecutors, enemies, and destroyers." Secondly, a wonderful increase of this community, exceeding all belief; Isaiah 49:18-19. Thirdly, the destruction of external enemies afflicting the church, Isaiah 49:20-21 in which verses the prophet sets forth more at large what he had just before said respecting the increase of the church, after it had struggled through the great afflictions which it was to suffer. Fourthly, the earnest and solicitous regard of the kings and princes of the world towards the church, together with their conversion, Isaiah 49:22-23. See chap. Isaiah 60:14 and Vitringa. The author of the Observations, upon the latter clause of the 22nd verse, remarks from Pitts, that the Algerines never take either apprentices or hired servants; but "such as have occasion for servants buy slaves, and bring them up to their household-work, as our servant-maids here in England; who, as soon as they have done up all their work in the house, are usually allowed the liberty to go abroad, and visit their countrymen, commonly bearing each a child with them; and if the child be a boy, it rides on the slaves' shoulders." Sandys makes a like remark, as to the manner of carrying children in the east, observing, that as we bear ours in our arms, they carry theirs astride on their shoulders. Concerning the phrase, licking the dust, &c. see Psalms 72:9 and the Observations, p. 255.


Verses 24-26

Isaiah 49:24-26. Or the lawful captive delivered? Or the captive company of the rigorous or terrible one be delivered? [read עריצ orits for צדיק zadik, with St. Jerome.] Isaiah 49:25. Yea, thus saith the Lord, &c. God had promised very great and excellent things to his church; but to a person seriously considering the state of that church, and comparing it with the power and strength of its enemies, and particularly its chief enemy, Satan, who held the nations in ignorance and darkness, a doubt naturally arose, whether it could possibly be, that this prey, so long possessed by Satan, could be extorted from him, so that he might be driven from his strong fort, and the rulers of the world held in subjection by him might be delivered from their servitude. Isaiah resolves this doubt of the church, and teaches, that it should certainly come to pass that Satan, this mighty one, should be driven from his fort, his captives delivered, Isaiah 49:25 and the adversaries of the church perish by their mutual slaughter of each other; Isaiah 49:26 which is to be understood metaphorically, and refers to the intestine wars by which princes and people, armed to their mutual destruction, plunge their destroying swords in each other's bowels, and as it were feed upon each other's flesh and blood. See chap. Isaiah 9:19-20. Zechariah 11:9 and Revelation 16:6. Nothing can be more remarkably fulfilled than this prophesy was in the time of Dioclesian, to which it may in its primary sense refer; though certainly it has reference to the universal spread of the Gospel in the latter days.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, The former chapter related chiefly to the salvation of the Jews; this looks much farther, even to the salvation of Gentiles as well as Jews, through the preaching of the Gospel.

1. The isles are summoned to attend the word of their God and Saviour, which should go forth into all lands; and distant realms are called to hear the glad tidings of salvation through a Redeemer.

2. His mission and authority are set forth. The Lord hath called me from the womb, from eternity, to be a prophet, priest, and king to his faithful people; from, or before, the bowels of my mother hath made mention of my name, his name Jesus being given him by the angel before his conception. And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; so piercing and powerful his word, that the powers of darkness fell down before it, and deep conviction seized the sinners' hearts; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, during the days of infancy, when Herod sought to destroy him; and made me a polished shaft, or choice arrow, bright and sharp. In his quiver hath he hid me, till the fulness of time came that he should be manifested in the flesh; and said unto me, Thou art my servant, (for in this form he consented to appear,) O Israel, in whom I will be glorified, God's perfections being never so eminently displayed, as in the salvation wrought out by his incarnate Son.

3. He complains of the little effect that his preaching produced on the Jewish people: he laboured in vain, and spent his strength for nought. They paid no attention to his miracles, nor were convinced by his word; yet God knew the fidelity with which he discharged his trust, and his word was approved, and would be rewarded by him. Note; (1.) It is no uncommon complaint for ministers to make, that to the most of their congregations they labour in vain. (2.) We must not be discouraged if we see not all the success that we hoped for: when we are conscious of our own simplicity, we may quietly leave the matter in the hands of God. (3.) It is not always lost labour, where the effects are not immediately seen: the seed which Christ sowed in his life grew most plentifully after his death. (4.) Our success enters not so much into our reward, as our fidelity.

4. With two encouraging promises God answers his complaints. He had formed him to be his servant, and appointed him to seek and save the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But though the people in general rejected his Gospel, yet, [1.] He should be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and God would be his strength, to carry him through all the difficulties of his arduous work. Thus we see him attended by angels at his birth, ministered to by then in his agony, transfigured on the mount, ascending from the dead, and exalted to the right hand of the Majesty on high. [2.] He should not merely be a Saviour to the faithful Israelites; but on the Gentiles his light should arise, and his salvation be spread to the ends of the earth; whence converts would be gathered into the church, unspeakably more numerous than those of his own nation, who should reject him: and this we see in part fulfilled, and fulfilling daily, till the fulness of the Gentiles shall come in. Note; (1.) The soul is in utter darkness till Christ in his Gospel enlightens the eyes of our minds, and guides us into paths of peace. (2.) Christ is the only salvation for lost man; out of him there is no hope.

2nd, We have,

1. The humiliation and exaltation of the Lord Jesus. God the Father, the Redeemer of Israel, encourages his dear Son under his abasement: in the days of his flesh he would be despised of men, abhorred of his own nation, and crucified; a servant of rulers, insulted by the Jewish and Roman chiefs: yet great was the glory to which he should be advanced: the kings of the earth should do him homage, and princes bow down to him; as was the case when the Roman empire under Constantine embraced the profession of Christianity, and will be more abundantly fulfilled when all nations shall come and worship before him.

2. God promises him all support in the day of his trouble. He will answer his prayers, and help him in the trying hour, when on the cross he hung, accomplishing the great atonement for sinful man. Note; (1.) Whenever the penitent lifts up his soul in prayer to God, he will find it an acceptable time. (2.) God never forsakes the sincere seeker in his distress, but will succour and save him at his cry.

3. He is assured that he shall see of the travail of his soul in the salvation of his faithful people. I will give thee for a covenant of the people, as their great covenant-head and representative, in whom they would be accepted, and entitled to the blessings of grace and glory, which by his blood and infinite merit he obtained for them; to establish or raise up the earth, and cause to inherit the desolate heritages; by the preaching of his Gospel, replenishing his church from the Gentile world, which before was desolate, and the members of it comparatively few, that thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves; the souls of sinners being under the bands of iniquity, shut up in the darkness of ignorance and error, and obnoxious to the justice of God, till Christ by his pardoning word cancels our guilt, by his renewing grace enlightens our minds, and brings us forth into the glorious liberty of the sons of God, to shew forth the change that he hath wrought, and therein to make his glory to appear. And those who are thus brought to him in faith—they shall feed in the ways, in the word and ordinances of God; and their pastures shall be in all high places, where there is plenty of nourishment, and safety from all attacks. They shall not hunger nor thirst, shall want no temporal or spiritual good; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them; God will preserve them from the power of temptation, and cover them from the severity of persecution. For he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, with all the tenderness of a shepherd: even by the springs of water shall he guide them, filling their souls with consolations, and, as they are under divine conduct, making them happy in divine comfort. Every obstacle in their way shall be removed; I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted, that the faithful may see the straight path before them, and walk safely and securely therein: and as, at Cyrus's proclamation, the Jews assembled from all parts of the land of Chaldea to return to Zion; so, in greater numbers, shall converts flock into the church of Christ. Behold! the glorious sight; these shall come from far: and lo! these from the north, and from the west, and these from the land of Sinim; from all quarters of the globe whither his Gospel should go forth, multitudes should join themselves to the Lord, which, in the apostles' days, was eminently verified, and shall be yet more abundantly seen in the latter days. Note; (1.) Christ is our covenant-head; and by faith all the blessings of this new covenant are derived from him. (2.) Miserable is the sinner's state, till Christ comes to set him free; yet how many sleep careless in their chains, and never consider that the darkness of sin must shortly issue in the outer darkness of hell! (3.) True believers are the Saviour's peculiar care, and he will see that they shall want no manner of thing that is good. (4.) The way to glory hath difficulties, but none so great but that Almighty grace can make us more than conquerors. (5.) Were we left to ourselves a moment, how quickly should we like silly sheep go astray? Blessed be God, we are not left to our own keeping, but are under the care of a watchful shepherd!

3rdly, The deliverance of Israel from Babylon was just matter of abundant joy: but how much greater is due for the redemption of Jesus, the desire of all nations?

1. The whole creation is represented as bursting forth into songs of joy on this glorious event. The afflicted are comforted, the miserable find mercy, and heaven and earth unite to celebrate the Saviour's praise. Note; We can never be thankful enough for redeeming love, nor will eternity suffice to speak the praises of our Lord.

2. The state of despondence into which Zion had fallen served to heighten the joy of their deliverance. Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me: in their long captivity they were ready to faint, and despair of relief; and many a time the church of God has been reduced so low, driven by persecution into the desert, that it seemed forsaken of God. And thus it is with too many in seasons of temptation, when under darkness they are ready to despair, and give up all for lost. But hear,

3. God's answer to Zion's complaint: nothing can be conceived more expressive of his love, tenderness, and care, toward his believing people. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Strange as it may appear, such an unnatural monster might perhaps be found; but, with tenderness infinitely surpassing, God never forgets, never ceases to love and protect those simple souls that hang upon him. On his hands they are engraved, and as a signet precious to him. Perhaps some allusion may be had to the prints of the nails in the hands of Jesus, the love-marks which he bears for the sake of his faithful people. Thy children shall make haste, or thy builders; either Gospel-ministers, who should assiduously labour to build up the church, or converts that should flock into it; while thy destroyers, and they that made thee waste, shall go forth of thee; the Babylonians, or rather all the persecutors and corruptors of God's church, such as antichrist and his followers, who shall be destroyed at the coming of Jesus, and cast into outer darkness. Note; (1.) The love of Christ toward his believing people is so surpassing great, that wherever it is truly believed and known, it cannot but powerfully constrain the heart. (2.) When Christ calls, we must make no delay. (3.) The damnation of the wicked is as sure as the salvation of the faithful.

4thly, Great and precious promises of the increase and glory of the church are here revealed. A glimpse of this appeared when the Jews returned from their captivity; a brighter, display of it was made when the Gospel was first preached; but the full blaze seems yet reserved for the times to come, when all nations shall be called to the obedience of the faith.

1. A vast increase shall be made to the church. Lift up thine eyes; behold the numerous converts assembling from every quarter, ornaments to their profession by the holiness of their lives, as the jewels which adorn a bride. Thy waste and thy desolate places, the countries before destitute of true religion shall be filled with faithful souls, and all their enemies confounded shall perish. The children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the other, cut off by the persecuting powers of the earth, shall spring up as a plenteous harvest, from the blood of the slain martyrs; or, the children of thy widowhood, when the church seemed bereft of all her sons and daughters by the prevalence of the man of sin, shall say again, or, shall yet say in thine ears, The place it too strait for me; such a sudden and strange increase of converts shall be made. With pleasing surprise the glad mother shall behold the children that God hath given her, and, wondering, inquire who hath begotten them, and whence they come, so unexpected a comfort to her widowed state; and the answer is, They come from Gentile lands, called by the word of Gospel-grace, and listed under the banners of a crucified Jesus; and so eager are they to have a place in the spiritual Zion, that the weak and feeble are borne upon the shoulders of the strong; or, they will bring their children with them, and enroll them in the visible church: and perhaps it may also refer to the assistance which the Gentiles shall give the Jews, when the Gospel shall be preached to them with power. Note; (1.) However low the church may be reduced, her latter end shall have great increase. (2.) They who have a concern for their own souls, cannot but be solicitous that others, especially their own children, may be brought to the knowledge of Christ and his Gospel.

2. The church shall not only be increased in number, but be highly honoured. Kings shall be nursing-fathers, and queens nursing-mothers to it; such as Cyrus, Ahasuerus, and Esther, were to the Jews; or rather such as Constantine and Helena, and other Christian monarchs, have been; and which will be still farther seen, when all the kingdoms of the world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ. They shall bow down to thee with their face towards the earth, with profoundest submission, and lick up the dust of thy feet; ready to serve the church in the lower offices, and to shew affection and regard to the meanest of Christ's members. And thou shalt know that I am the Lord, by such wondrous exertion of his power to make all nations obedient to the faith; for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me; the performance of all his promises shall be seen in their season, and the hopes of his waiting people shall never be disappointed; therefore, my soul, trust thou still in the Lord!

5thly, Deliverance is promised, but great difficulties are in the way.

1. We have an objection, raised either by their proud oppressors, as despising the prophetic word; or by the unbelieving Jews, as distrusting it, Shall the prey be taken from the mighty? such as were the Babylonian monarchs; or the lawful captive be delivered? of which so little probability appeared. And this is applicable to our souls taken captive by the devil, and by our willing servitude surrendered into his hands, who is strong to keep his prisoners; and it is a miracle of mercy if any sinner be rescued from his bands.

2. God, by express promise, assures his people that it shall be done. Mighty as their oppressors are, and terrible, they are not too great for God to cope with. He will espouse their quarrel, overcome their foes, and save their children, plucking them from the power of their enemies. Nay, he will do more; he will utterly consume their enemies, will visit them with the sorest judgments, and make the world acknowledge his power to abase his foes, and his love toward his faithful children. And this is spiritually fulfilled daily in the souls of sinners, by divine grace delivered from the bonds of sin and Satan (that strong man armed), and saved from all their enemies; and will also literally be fulfilled in the destruction of antichrist, and the persecuting powers of Popery, Paganism, and Mahometanism, when Christ shall make his glory to appear, and all the world be forced to own both his power to save and to destroy to the uttermost.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Isaiah 49:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/isaiah-49.html. 1801-1803.

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Tuesday, June 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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