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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Isaiah 64:6

For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

Adam Clarke Commentary

As filthy rags - עדים iddim . Rab. Mosheh ben Maimon interpretatur עדים iddim, vestes quibus mulier se abstergit post congressum cum marito suo. Alii pannus menstruatus. Alii panni mulieris parientis. - And we ben made as unclene alle we: and as the cloth of the woman rooten blode flowing, all our rigtwisnesses. - Old MS. Bible. If preachers knew properly the meaning of this word, would they make such a liberal use of it in their public ministry? And why should any use a word, the meaning of which he does not understand? How many in the congregation blush for the incautious man and his "filthy rags!"


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Isaiah 64:6". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/isaiah-64.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

But we are all as an unclean thing - We are all polluted and defiled. The word used here (טמא ṭâmē' ), means properly that which is polluted and defiled in a Levitical sense; that is, which was regarded as polluted and abominable by the law of Moses Leviticus 5:2; Deuteronomy 14:19, and may refer to animals, people, or things; also in a moral sense Job 14:4. The sense is, that they regarded themselves as wholly polluted and depraved.

And all our righteousnesses - The plural form is used to denote the deeds which they had performed - meaning that pollution extended to every individual thing of the numerous acts which they had done. The sense is, that all their prayers, sacrifices, alms, praises, were mingled with pollution, and were worthy only of deep detestation and abhorrence.

As filthy rags - ‹Like a garment of stated times‘ (עדים ‛iddiym ) - from the obsolete root עדד ‛âdad “to number, to reckon, to determine,” e. g., time. No language could convey deeper abhorrenee of their deeds of righteousness than this reference - as it is undoubtedly - to the vestis menstruis polluta. ‹Non est ambigendum,‘ says Vitringa, ‹quin vestis עדים ‛iddiym notet linteum aut pannum immundum ex immunditie legali, eundemque foedum aspectu; cu-jusmodi fuerit imprimis vestis, pannus, aut linteum feminae menstruo profluvio laborantis; verisimile est, id potissimum hae phrasi designari. Sic accepit earr Alexandrinus, vertens, ὡς ῥάκος ἀποκαθη μένης hōs rakos apokathē menēs - ut pannus sedentis; proprie: ut pannus mulieris languidae et desidentis ex menstruo παθήματι pathēmati ‹ (Leviticus 15:33; compare Leviticus 20:18; Lamentations 1:17).

And we all do fade as a leaf - We are all withered away like the leaf of autumn. Our beauty is gone; our strength is fled (compare the notes at Isaiah 40:6-7; Isaiah 50:1-11:30). What a beautiful description this is of the state of man! Strength, vigor, comeliness, and beauty thus fade away, and, like the ‹sere and yellow leaf‘ of autumn, fall to the earth. The earth is thus strewed with that which was once comely like the leaves of spring, now falling and decaying like the faded verdure of the forest.

And our iniquities like the wind - As a tempest sweeps away the leaves of the forest, so have we been swept away by our sins.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Isaiah 64:6". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/isaiah-64.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

But we are all as an unclean thing,.... Or "we have been"F20גהי "fuimus", V. L. Montanus. ; so all men are in a state of nature: man was made pure and holy, but by sinning became impure; and this impurity is propagated by natural generation, and belongs to all, none are free from it; and there is no cleansing from it but by the grace of God and blood of Christ: all are not sensible of it; some are, as the church here was, and owns it, and the universality of it, and compares herself and members to an "unclean thing", on account of it; so men, defiled with sin, are compared to unclean creatures, dogs, and swine, and to unclean persons; to such as are covered with loathsome diseases, and particularly to leprous persons, and who may be chiefly intended here; they being defiled and defiling, loathsome and abominable, their disease spreading and continuing, and incurable by physicians; hence they were separated from the company of men; and the words may be rendered, "as an unclean person"F21כטמא "ut immundus", V. L. Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "tanquam impuruss", Cocceius, Vitringa, , as such were by the law: or we are, in our own sense and apprehension of things; and this may respect not only the impurity of nature, but a general corruption in doctrine and manners among the professors of religion; such as was in the Jewish church about the time of Christ's coming.

And all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; which is to be understood not of the righteousness of some persons in the church, which lay in outward rites, ceremonies, and sacrifices, which were no righteousness before God, and could not take away sin; and were indeed on many accounts, as they were performed, loathsome and abominable; see Isaiah 1:11, or of others that lay in outward legal duties and works of the law, which were not done from right principles, as well as not perfect; and so, because of the impurity, imperfection, pride, and vanity, that appeared in them, were abominable to the Lord: but of the righteousnesses of the church herself; not of the righteousness of Christ, which was made hers by imputation; for this is not rags, but a robe, the best robe, and wedding garment; much less filthy, but pure and spotless, beautiful and glorious, as well as a proper covering; but then, though this is the church's, and all true believers', by gift, by imputation and application, yet its is properly Christ's and is in him, and is opposed to their own righteousness; which is what is intended here, even the best of it; such works of righteousness as are done by them in the best manner; they are "rags", not whole, but imperfect, not fit to appear in before God, and by which they cannot be justified in his sight; they are "filthy" ones, being attended with imperfection and sin; and these conversation garments need continual washing in the blood of Jesus; this is the language not of a natural man, or of a Pharisee, but of a sensible sinner, a truly gracious soul. The words may be rendered, "as a menstruous cloth"F23כבגר עדים "ut vestimentum menstruatum, sive menstruatae", Drusius; a עדא "removit", so V. L. Syr. and Ar. "ut vestis remotionum", Cocceius. , as some; or "as a garment of spoil or prey"F24"Vestes praedae", Forerius; a עד "praeda", Gen. xlix. 27. , as Aben Ezra, rolled in blood, either in war, or by a beast of prey; or as a foul plaster or cloth taken off a sore, with purulent matter on itF25Pittacium, Grotius. So Kimchi, whose interpretation and sense of the word is preferred by Gussetius, Ebr. Comment. p. 581. , as others; or any other impure and nauseous thing. HottingerF26Smegma Orientale, I. 1. c. 7. p. 181. thinks the word has some affinity with the Arabic עדד, which signifies "running water", such as the water of a fountain or well; so that the sense may be, that the church's righteousness was like a cloth, so polluted and spotted that it could not be washed out clean but with clear and running water; and, in every sense in which it may be taken, it serves to set forth the impurity and imperfection of the best righteousness of men, and to show that their works are not the cause of salvation, the church had an assurance of in the preceding verse:

and we all do fade as a leaf; or "fall"F1ונבל "et decidimus", V. L. So Ben Melech interprets it of falling. as one; as leaves in autumn: this is to be understood of a great part, and perhaps of the greater part, of the visible members of the church; not of true believers and real members, for these are rooted in the love of God, and in Christ, and have the root of the matter in them, the true grace of God; and therefore, though they meet with many blustering storms, yet do not cast their leaf of profession; indeed there may be, as there often are, decays and declensions in them; but rather this is to be interpreted of carnal professors, with which, at this time, the church abounded, who had no true grace in them; and so dropped their profession, and became like trees whose fruit withered, were without fruit; or like trees, in the fall of the year, which are without fruit, and shed their leaves, Judges 1:12,

and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away; as a leaf falling from the tree is carried away with the wind, which it is not able to withstand; so formal and carnal professors are carried away, through their sins, with the wind of persecution, and apostatize: or rather for their sins the Jews were carried captive, as before, to Babylon; so now by the Romans into various countries, where they are dispersed at this day; to which this passage may have some respect. "Iniquities" are put for the punishment of them; so the Targum,

"and, because of our sins, as the wind we are taken away.'


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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 64:6". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/isaiah-64.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

But we are all as an unclean [thing], and all our h righteousnesses [are] as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

(h) We are justly punished and brought into captivity, because we have provoked you to anger, and though we would excuse ourselves, yet our righteousness, and best virtues are before you as vile cloths, or (as some read) like the menstruous cloths of a woman.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Isaiah 64:6". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/isaiah-64.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

unclean thing — legally unclean, as a leper. True of Israel, everywhere now cut off by unbelief and by God‘s judgments from the congregation of the saints.

righteousness — plural, “uncleanness” extended to every particular act of theirs, even to their prayers and praises. True of the best doings of the unregenerate (Philemon 3:6-8; Titus 1:15; Hebrews 11:6).

filthy rags — literally, a “menstruous rag” (Leviticus 15:33; Leviticus 20:18; Lamentations 1:17).

fade … leaf — (Psalm 90:5, Psalm 90:6).


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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 64:6". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/isaiah-64.html. 1871-8.

Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

(7)

Universal forgetfulness of God was the consequence of this self-instigated departure from God. “And there was no one who called upon Thy name, who aroused himself to lay firm hold of Thee: for Thou hadst hidden Thy face from us, and didst melt us into the hand of our transgressions.” There was no one (see Isaiah 59:16) who had risen up in prayer and intercession out of this deep fall, or had shaken himself out of the sleep of security and lethargy of insensibility, to lay firm hold of Jehovah, i.e., not to let Him go till He blessed him and his people again. The curse of God pressed every one down; God had withdrawn His grace from them, and given them up to the consequences of their sins. The form ותּמוּגנוּ is not softened from the pilel ותּמגגנוּ , but is a kal like ויכוּננּוּ ekil in Job 31:15 (which see), מוּג being used in a transitive sense, as kūn is there (cf., shūbh , Isaiah 52:8; m ūsh , Zechariah 3:9). The lxx, Targ., and Syr. render it et tradidisti nos ; but we cannot conclude from this with any certainty that they read ותּמגּננוּ , which Knobel follows Ewald in correcting into the incorrect form ותּמגּנּוּ . The prophet himself had the expression m iggēn b e yad (Genesis 14:20, cf., Job 8:4) in his mind, in the sense of liquefecisti nos in manum , equivalent to liquefecisti et tradidisti ( παρέδωκας , Romans 1:28), from which it is evident that ביד is not a mere διά (lxx), but the “hand” of the transgressions is their destructive and damning power.


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Bibliography
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Isaiah 64:6". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/isaiah-64.html. 1854-1889.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Unclean — Formerly there were some that feared thee; but now we are all as one polluted mass, nothing of good left in us by reason of an universal degeneracy.

And all — The very best of us all are no better than the uncleanest things.

Taken — Carried away to Babylon, as leaves hurried away by a boisterous wind.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 64:6". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/isaiah-64.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

6.We have all been as the unclean. The believers go on in their complaint; for they deplore their condition, because God appears to take no account of them. Hebrew writers are not agreed as to the meaning of the words בגד עדים (beged gniddim.) (190) Yet it is certain that it denotes something which is vile and worthless, and which, on account of its filthiness, stinks in the noses of men. But here two things ought to be observed; first, that believers confess their guilt, and are justly punished for it; and, secondly, that they nevertheless complain of the severity of the punishments which they endure, not to blame God, but to move him to compassion; just as a culprit, when he endeavors to mitigate the severity of a judge, lays before him his own distresses and calamities. Some commentators torture this passage, by alleging that the Prophet, when he speaks of the pollutions of sins, describes all Jews without exception, though there still remained some of them who were sincere worshippers of God. But there are no good grounds for this; for the Prophet does not speak of individuals, but of the whole body, which, being trodden under foot by all men, and subjected to the utmost indignity, he compares to a filthy garment.

There are some who frequently quote this passage, in order to prove that so far are our works from having any merit in them, that they are rotten and loathsome in the sight of God. But this appears to me to be at variance with the Prophet’s meaning, who does not speak of the whole human race, but describes the complaint of those who, having been led into captivity, experienced the wrath of the Lord against them, and therefore, acknowledged that they and their righteousnesses were like a filthy garment. And first, he exhorts them to a confession of their sin, that they may acknowledge their guilt; and next, that they should nevertheless ask pardon from God, the manner of obtaining which is, that, while we complain that we are wretched and distressed, we at the same time acknowledge that we are justly punished for our sins.

And we all fade as a leaf. This is a very beautiful comparison, which shews that men utterly fade and decay when they feel that God is angry with them; as is admirably described in Psalms 90:6 (191) Justly, therefore, are we compared to leaves; for “our iniquities, like the wind, carry us away.”


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 64:6". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/isaiah-64.html. 1840-57.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

THE FADING LEAF

‘We all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.’

Isaiah 64:6

I. Lessons of the falling leaf.

(a) It is a picture of man’s insignificance on the face of God’s world.

(b) It is a picture of the inherent decay of man.

(c) It is a picture of the inevitable fate of man.

(d) It is a picture of the universal fate of man.

II. Look at the figure of the falling leaf as solemnised by the thought of sin.

(a) Sin has made the departure of man premature.

(b) Sin has made man’s departure from this world a violent one.

(c) Sin has given to man’s departure from this world a dark and terrible fear for the future.


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Bibliography
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Isaiah 64:6". Church Pulpit Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/isaiah-64.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean [thing], and all our righteousnesses [are] as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Ver. 6. But we are all as an unclean thing.] Both our persons and our actions are so; for "who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" What a mercy is it then that God should look upon such walking dunghills as we are, and accept the work of our hands?

And all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.] (a) Or, As a coat of patches, a beggar’s coat, vestis centonum, vestis e vilibus paniculis consuta. Heb. A cloth of separations, a matury rag, a menstruous clout, nauseous and odious, such as a man would loathe to touch, much more to take up. Such are our best works as they proceed from us; when there springeth up any sweet fountain of grace within us, our hearts closely cast in their filthy dirt, as the Philistines dealt by Isaac; they drop down from their impure hands some filth upon that pure web the Spirit weaveth, and make it a menstruous cloth. Where, then, are justiciaries, our merit mongers? &c. Those that seek to be saved by their works, Luther fitly calleth the devil’s martyrs; they suffer much, and take great pains to go to hell. We are all apt to weave a web of righteousness of our own, to spin a thread of our own to climb up to heaven by, but that cannot be. We must do all righteousnesses, rest in none but Christ’s, disclaiming our own best as spotted and imperfect.

And we all fade as a leaf.] That falleth to the ground in autumn. The poet could say,

Oιηπερ φυλλων γενεη, τοιηδε και ανδρων.” - Hom.

And our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.] Out of thy presence; and will hurry us to hell, if thou forefend not.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 64:6". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/isaiah-64.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Isaiah 64:6

I. Notice, first, the very pernicious fact of our inaptitude to feel and reflect that our mortal condition is fading. (1) We are very unapt to recognise the common lot and destiny of all human life—that it is to fade and is fading. The vast world of the departed is out of our sight—even what was the material and visible part. What is constantly in our sight is the world of the living, and we are unapt to think of them as all appointed not to be living. And we may note a circumstance which aids the deception, namely, that the most decayed and faded portion of the living world is much less in sight than the fresh and vigorous. "Out of sight, out of mind" in a great degree. (2) We are very prone to forget our own destiny, even while we do recognise the general appointment to fade and vanish. We have some unaccountable power and instinct to dissociate ourselves from the general condition and relationship of humanity. (3) We are apt to regard life much more as a thing that we positively possess, than as a thing that we are losing, and in a train to cease possessing.

II. Notice a few of those monitory circumstances which verify this our declining state. (1) How many successive generations of men have faded and vanished since the text itself was written? (2) To a reflective mind, the constant, inevitable progress towards fading would appear very much related to it. One has looked sometimes on the flowers of a meadow which the mower's scythe was to invade next day:—perfect life and beauty as yet,—but to the mind they have seemed already fading through the anticipation. (3) But there are still more decided indications of decay. There are circumstances that will not let us forget whereabouts we are in life; feelings of positive infirmity, diminished power of exertion, grey hairs, failure of sight, slight injuries to the body far less easily repaired. Let us not absurdly turn from this view of life because it is grave and gloomy, but dwell upon it, often and intensely, for the great purpose of exciting our spirits to a victory over the vanity of our present condition; to gain from it, through the aid of the Divine Spirit, a mighty impulse toward a state of ever-living, ever-blooming existence beyond the sky.

J. Foster, Lectures, 1st series, p. 245.


I. Isaiah forms a most correct estimate of our condition upon earth, because we are all frail like the leaf.

II. The prophet's reminder marks the certainty of our approaching death.

III. The metaphor reminds us of the uncertainty of the time when death may come.

IV. The lesson of our gradual decay is set forth in the falling leaf.

V. The text suggests the renovation which will follow our decay.

W. N. Norton, Every Sunday, p. 447.


References: Isaiah 64:6.—Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 303; S. Randall, Literary Churchman Sermons, p. 236; Pulpit Analyst, vol. ii., p. 454; Outline Sermons to Children, p. 102; A. F. Barfield, Christian World Pulpit, vol. iv., p. 150; F. Wagstaff, Ibid., vol. vi., p. 232; E. D. Solomon, Ibid., vol. xxiv., p. 296. Isaiah 64:6-8.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. viii., No. 437. Isaiah 64:7.—G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 229; J. F. Haynes, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xvi., p. 314; J. P. Gledstone, Ibid., vol. xvii., p. 89; Homiletic Magazine, vol. ix., p. 204; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiii., No. 1377.


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Bibliography
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Isaiah 64:6". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/isaiah-64.html.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

DISCOURSE: 1018

IMPERFECTION OF OUR BEST SERVICES

Isaiah 64:6. We are all as an unclean thing; and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.

HUMILITY is that grace which is most suited to our condition as fallen creatures; and, that we may be assisted in the pursuit of it, God has graciously given us, not only promises for our encouragement, but patterns for our imitation, and models for our use. We cannot have any more instructive pattern than that which is exhibited in the repenting publican, or in the returning prodigal. Of models, that which David has left us, in the fifty-first Psalm, is perhaps the most distinguished, and bf most general utility: but that which is contained in this, and part of the preceding, chapter, excepting only some few expressions, is almost equally applicable to the Christian world. The whole of it is a prayer drawn up by the prophet for the use of the Jews, when they should be in captivity in Babylon. We shall not enter into it at large, but shall confine our attention to the passage which we have just read, which most justly describes our state before God,

I. In general terms—

There were many things considered as unclean under the Jewish dispensation: and whosoever touched them was deemed unclean; and, till he had been purified according to the law, he was kept both from the house of God and from all his fellow-creatures, lest he should communicate to others the defilement which he had contracted. Hence, when the prophet says, “We are all as an unclean thing,” he must be understood to say, that we are,

1. Unclean in ourselves—

[Who can look inward for one moment, and not confess this melancholy truth? — — —]

2. Defiling to others—

[The whole of our intercourse with each other tends to foster some vile affection, some “earthly, sensual, or devilish” inclination — — —]

3. In a state of separation from God and his people—

[We have by nature no delight in God: we are averse to his service, his worship, his people: our “carnal minds are enmity against him,” and against every thing that leads to him, or sets him before our eyes — — — We “say continually in our hearts, Depart from us; we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.”]

Wretched as our state appears from this representation, the prophet sets it forth in a far more humiliating view,

II. By a particular comparison—

In the former clause of the text the prophet speaks of us as we are on the whole: but in the latter part he speaks of our “righteousnesses” only; and these he compares to a leprous garment, which by God’s express command was to be consigned to the flames. The truth of this comparison appears, in that all our best deeds are,

1. Defective—

[If we measure them by a standard of our own, we may discern no flaw in them: but the perfect law of God is that by which they must be tried: and where has there been one action of our lives that has fully come up to that standard? — — — We are required to love God with all our heart, and all our mind, and all our soul, and all our strength; and our neighbour as ourselves: but what duty that we ever performed to God or man will stand this test? — — — Hence we must confess, that every thing we have done has been impure in the sight of God — — — ]

2. Mixed with sin—

[Pride and self-righteousness cleave to us as long as we are in an unconverted state; and the more exemplary our conduct is, the more it calls forth, and seems to justify, those hateful propensities. Let the most moral person look into his own heart, and see whether, instead of being filled with self-lothing and self-abhorrence on account of his defects, he do not find a self-preference and self-complacency arising in his heart, and prompting him to say, like the elated Pharisee, “I thank thee, O God, that I am not as other men.” Now this is a fly, that would render the most precious ointment offensive [Note: Ecclesiastes 10:1.]. While such a disposition as this is harboured in our hearts, we, and all that we do, must be hateful in the sight of God, and render us fit only to be cast, as most abhorred objects, into the fire of hell [Note: See Leviticus 13:47-58. but especially ver. 55, where it was appointed, that though the plague had not spread, or changed its colour, yet if it had eaten off the knap from the cloth, the cloth was to be burned, became it was “fret inward.” So, though the whole conversation of a man be not polluted, or even visibly bad in any part, yet if then be an inward disposition that is depraved, our great High Priest, when he shall inspect our hearts, will certainly pronounce us leprous, and execute the law upon us.].]

This subject may be improved for,

1. Our conviction—

[We are very backward to acknowledge ourselves so depraved as we really are. But this declaration of God is sufficient to humble the proudest heart. It is not atrocious sinners only that are thus vile, but “all,” all without exception. Nor are our worst actions only thus defiled, but all, even our best; “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” Let all then, without exception, humble themselves as “unclean [Note: Isaiah 6:5.],” and “vile [Note: Job 40:4.],” and altogether destitute of any thing that is good [Note: Romans 7:18.].]

2. Our direction—

[Our own righteousness must be wholly renounced; and all of us must enter into the kingdom of heaven on the very same footing as publicans and harlots. This is humiliating to our proud nature; but it must be done: for, if it would be unseemly to introduce to an earthly monarch his bride clothed in “filthy rags,” much more would it be so to present our souls to the heavenly Bridegroom clad in such polluted garments as ours. St. Paul himself felt the necessity of a better righteousness than his own [Note: Philippians 3:9.]; and, if ever we would find acceptance with God, we must seek it altogether through the righteousness of Christ.]

3. Our comfort—

[We need not be dejected on account of the foregoing representation; since there is a righteousness offered to us in the Gospel, even “the righteousness of Christ, which is unto all, and upon all them that believe [Note: Romans 3:22.].” This is commensurate with our wants: it is absolutely perfect; and it was wrought out by Him [Note: Daniel 9:24.], in order that we might be clad in it, and “that the shame of our nakedness might not appear [Note: Revelation 3:18.].” Rejoice therefore all ye who are conscious of your own depravity, and pray to God that “Christ may be made righteousness unto you [Note: 1 Corinthians 1:30.];” and that you, both in time and in eternity, may glory in him as “the Lord your righteousness [Note: Jeremiah 23:6.].”]


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Bibliography
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Isaiah 64:6". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/isaiah-64.html. 1832.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

We are all as an unclean thing: he alludes either to things unclean under the ceremonial law, wherein the leprosy was found, and was to be burnt, Leviticus 13:55; or rather to persons unclean. They compare their present state with the former: q.d. Formerly there were some that feared thee, and walked uprightly before thee, and were in thy favour; but now we are all as one polluted mass, nothing of good left in us, by reason of a universal degeneracy, Isaiah 1:4,6.

Our righteousnesses: this, according to the most commentators, refers either to the observances of the rites and ceremonies of the law, wherein they thought their righteousnesses did much consist; or to the best work and actions that can be performed by us; or to our natural, universal depravities: but the best interpreters, and such aim at the peculiar sense of the place, refer it to the gross provocations that this people were guilty of, causing God to cast them out of their habitations; or else to their persons, i.e. the most righteous among us; and being plural, it raiseth it up to the highest degree, the Scripture frequently putting the abstract for the concrete, as wisdoms for the greatest wisdom, Proverbs 9:1, and many the like instances formerly given; so that the meaning is, the very best of us all are no better than the uncleanest things or persons; see Micah 7:2-4; and the rather, because he lived about the time of Isaiah.

As filthy rags; a cloth made up of patches, or such as come from a putrid sore, or defiled with the menstruous blood of a woman; the LXX., as a rag of one that sits down, possibly alluding to Rachel, Genesis 31:34,35, or whatever may be most filthy.

As a leaf blown off the tree, and so withers.

Taken us away; carried us away to Babylon from our habitations, as leaves hurried away by a boisterous wind; our iniquities have been the procuring cause.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Isaiah 64:6". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/isaiah-64.html. 1685.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Israel"s sins had thoroughly polluted her and had placed her in an apparently hopeless position (cf. Isaiah 6:5). Furthermore, she could not stop sinning. Was there any hope for her? She was as unclean as a leper, as repulsive as menstrual cloths, and as spiritually lifeless as a dead leaf on a tree ready to be blown away by more sin.


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Bibliography
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Isaiah 64:6". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/isaiah-64.html. 2012.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Unclean: leper. (Grotius) (Leviticus xiii. 45.) --- Justices. That is, the works by which we pretended to make ourselves just. This is spoken particularly of the sacrifices, sacraments, and ceremonies of the Jews, after the death of Christ, and the promulgation of the new law. (Challoner) --- The justice which is under the law is stated uncleanness, when compared with evangelical purity, Philippians iii. 8. --- "If any one after the gospel....would observe the ceremonies of the law, let him hear the people confessing that all that justice is compared to a most filthy rag." (St. Jerome) --- The good works which are done by grace, and not by man alone, cannot be said to be of this description. They constitute the internal glory of man, and God will one day crown these his gifts. Of ourselves indeed we can do nothing, and the works of the Mosaic law will not avail, as St. Paul inculcates; but those works, point out the saint, which are preformed by charity with faith in Christ. This justice is not imputed only, but real; and shews where true faith exists, according to St. James. Thus the apostles explain each other. (Haydock) --- Woman. Septuagint, "of one sitting down;" like Rachel, Genesis xxxi. 35. Symmachus, "lying-in." Aquila, "of proofs." Grotius, "like a plaster on a sore, which is thrown away." Such were Alcimus, &c. (Calmet) --- To practise (Haydock) the Jewish rites would now be sinful. (Menochius)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Isaiah 64:6". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/isaiah-64.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

wind. Hebrew. ruach. App-9.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Isaiah 64:6". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/isaiah-64.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

But we are all as an unclean (thing) ( kaTaamee' (Hebrew #2931)) - legally unclean as a leper. True of Israel, everywhere now cut off by unbelief, and by God's judgments, from the congregation of the saints.

And all our righteousnesses - plural, 'uncleanness' extended to every particular act of theirs, even to their prayers and praises. True of the best doings of the unregenerate (Philippians 3:6-8; Titus 1:15; Hebrews 11:6).

(Are) as filthy rags - literally a cloth of removals [ `idiym (Hebrew #5708), from `eed (Hebrew #5708), to remove or put away as unclean]; a menstruous rag (Leviticus 15:33; Leviticus 20:18; Lamentations 1:17).

Fade as a leaf - (Psalms 90:5-6.)


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 64:6". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/isaiah-64.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(6) We are all as an unclean thing . . .—Better, as he who is unclean, scil., like the leper of Leviticus 13:45.

Filthy rags point to that which to the Israelite was the other extremest form of ceremonial uncleanness, as in Ezekiel 36:17.

Have taken us away—scil., afar off from the light and favour of Jehovah.


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Isaiah 64:6". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/isaiah-64.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
are all
6:5; 53:6; Job 14:4; 15:14-16; 25:4; 40:4; 42:5,6; Psalms 51:5; Romans 7:18,24; Ephesians 2:1,2; Titus 3:3
all our
57:12; Zechariah 3:3; Philippians 3:9; Revelation 3:17,18; 7:13
we all
40:6-8; Psalms 90:5,6; James 1:10,11; 1 Peter 1:24,25
our iniquities
57:13; Psalms 1:4; Jeremiah 4:11,12; Hosea 4:19; Zechariah 5:8-11

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Isaiah 64:6". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/isaiah-64.html.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

AUTUMN LEAVES

Isa . And we all do fade as a leaf.

Men have ever been ready to associate the seasons of the year with the periods of human life: to compare our youth with the spring time, &c. We all know we are rapidly passing away, &c. Everything tells us that we are under a law of change and uncertainty, and decay and death; and my object will be to justify and account for this state of things, and to see what reliefs and supports the Gospel gives. Consider—

I. THE ORIGIN OF THIS STATE OF THINGS in the history of our fallen humanity. This was not the primitive condition of the race, but was superinduced and brought about by the entrance of sin. Man was not originally designed to perish like a leaf, &c.

II. THE DESIGN OF IT. For wise reasons God has placed us in a world of change, and under a law of uncertainty. Partly as a scene of discipline and spiritual education, and partly as a preventative against the outbreak of much depravity, which would be sure to arise from a state of changeless prosperity, in our sinful natures. We could not be trusted with unbroken happiness; and it would not be safe for us to be without the benefits which the changes of life produce. The law is universal: "We all," &c. Who has not lost a friend, &c.

III. THE MERCY OF THE APPOINTMENT. It is well that we do fade as a leaf, that we are often subject to gradual changes, as preparatory to the last great one. We might have been cut down like a tree, suddenly, without preparation, &c. The leaf as gradually fades, as it was gradually matured. God bears with much longsuffering. We ought to bless God for time and space for repentance, &c.

IV. THE IMMEDIATE CLAIMS OF GOD AND TRUTH upon you before the leaf fades from the tree.

1. Think much of the shortness and brevity of life.

2. Seek grace that you may know the day of your visitation, before life, like a withered leaf, drops from the tree, or is shaken down by the storm. "That life is long that answers life's great end." It is impossible if salvation be lost to repair by a second opportunity the loss of the first.—Samuel Thodey.

I. Though "we all do fade as a leaf," we do not perish as a leaf. II. We are not forgotten as a leaf. III. The Gospel cheers us in this fading condition. IV. The ripening of the soul may be going on in the midst of the fading.—Studies for the Pulpit, p. 107.

I. Man is unclean.

1. His nature is unclean. In its source, flow, fruits.

2. His righteousness is as filthy rags, mixed, defective, insufficient. II. Man is frail (see p. 420). Like a leaf he fades. By a natural law. Gradually, &c. III. Man is perishing. Like a leaf he decays. Rapid decay. Short lived existence. Certain fall. Dissolution.

Our iniquities, &c. I. Have torn us from God, as the leaf from the parent tree. II. Have destroyed our moral strength and beauty. III. Have overcome all our power of resistance. IV. Have plunged us into ruin and misery. V. Will if unchecked by the grace of God sweep us into eternal ruin.—J. Lyth, D.D.


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Isaiah 64:6". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/isaiah-64.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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