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Impending Judgment on the Earth


Now the L ord is about to lay waste the earth and make it desolate,

and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants.


And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest;

as with the slave, so with his master;

as with the maid, so with her mistress;

as with the buyer, so with the seller;

as with the lender, so with the borrower;

as with the creditor, so with the debtor.


The earth shall be utterly laid waste and utterly despoiled;

for the L ord has spoken this word.



The earth dries up and withers,

the world languishes and withers;

the heavens languish together with the earth.


The earth lies polluted

under its inhabitants;

for they have transgressed laws,

violated the statutes,

broken the everlasting covenant.


Therefore a curse devours the earth,

and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt;

therefore the inhabitants of the earth dwindled,

and few people are left.


The wine dries up,

the vine languishes,

all the merry-hearted sigh.


The mirth of the timbrels is stilled,

the noise of the jubilant has ceased,

the mirth of the lyre is stilled.


No longer do they drink wine with singing;

strong drink is bitter to those who drink it.


The city of chaos is broken down,

every house is shut up so that no one can enter.


There is an outcry in the streets for lack of wine;

all joy has reached its eventide;

the gladness of the earth is banished.


Desolation is left in the city,

the gates are battered into ruins.


For thus it shall be on the earth

and among the nations,

as when an olive tree is beaten,

as at the gleaning when the grape harvest is ended.



They lift up their voices, they sing for joy;

they shout from the west over the majesty of the L ord.


Therefore in the east give glory to the L ord;

in the coastlands of the sea glorify the name of the L ord, the God of Israel.


From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise,

of glory to the Righteous One.

But I say, I pine away,

I pine away. Woe is me!

For the treacherous deal treacherously,

the treacherous deal very treacherously.



Terror, and the pit, and the snare

are upon you, O inhabitant of the earth!


Whoever flees at the sound of the terror

shall fall into the pit;

and whoever climbs out of the pit

shall be caught in the snare.

For the windows of heaven are opened,

and the foundations of the earth tremble.


The earth is utterly broken,

the earth is torn asunder,

the earth is violently shaken.


The earth staggers like a drunkard,

it sways like a hut;

its transgression lies heavy upon it,

and it falls, and will not rise again.



On that day the L ord will punish

the host of heaven in heaven,

and on earth the kings of the earth.


They will be gathered together

like prisoners in a pit;

they will be shut up in a prison,

and after many days they will be punished.


Then the moon will be abashed,

and the sun ashamed;

for the L ord of hosts will reign

on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem,

and before his elders he will manifest his glory.


14. They shall lift up their voice. He follows out and increases the consolations which he had briefly sketched; for, having formerly (Isaiah 10:19-22) said that, out of that vast multitude, a few drops would be left, which would nevertheless overflow the whole world, in like manner he now says, that the small number of the godly, which shall be left out of an abundant vintage, will nevertheless rejoice and utter a voice so loud that it will be heard in the most distant countries. This was done by the preaching of the gospel; for, as to the condition of Judea, it appeared to be entirely ruined by it: the national government was taken away, and they were broken down by foreign and civil wars in such a manner that they never could rise above them. The rest of the world was dumb in singing the praises of God, and deaf to hear his voice; but as the Jews were the first fruits, I shall willingly admit that they are here placed in the highest rank.

Hence we obtain a remarkable consolation, that the Lord can in a moment restore his Church, and make it most flourishing; or rather, he can, as it were, create it out of nothing; for even out of death, as we have seen, he brings life. Now, this is contrary to nature and to ordinary custom, that so small a number of persons should lift up their voice, and be heard in distant places; for where there are few persons, there is silence, and where there is a crowd, there is commonly a noise. It is therefore a work of God, which goes beyond the course of nature and the ability of men; for otherwise it would appear as if the Prophet uttered what was contradictory, that when the whole of Judea had been laid waste and the world had been emptied, there would be few or almost none left, and yet that their shouting would be heard everywhere. This is in itself incredible, or rather absurd; but, as we have already said, it is an astonishing work of God.

They shall cry aloud from the sea. By those heralds he means not only those who were the descendants of the Jews according to the flesh, but those who were descended from them by faith. The crying aloud denotes not only cheerful voices, expressive of gladness and joy, but likewise confidence; for they will freely and boldly utter with a loud voice the praises of God. He states, at the same time, that it is right that believers should be employed in extolling God’s perfections and not their own claims to approbation. By the sea, he obviously means distant countries, and those which lay beyond the sea and were unknown to the Jews.

15. Wherefore glorify Jehovah in the valleys. 127127    {Bogus footnote} God’s benefits ought to excite us to gratitude, and we testify it by singing his praises. “What return shall we make,” as David says, “for all the benefits which he has bestowed on us, but to take the cup of thanksgiving for salvation, and call on the name of the Lord?” The Prophet therefore observes this order; having spoken of the restoration of the Church, he exhorts us to offer the sacrifice of praise.

By the valleys, he means countries that are hidden and, as it were, separated from others; for those which are surrounded by mountains are separated and disjoined by nature. The consequence is, that the inhabitants of valleys are less civilized, because they have fewer opportunities of conversing with each other. The meaning is the same as if the Prophet had said, that there will not be a corner so obscure or retired that the praises of God shall not be heard in it.

The name of Jehovah the God of Israel. He uses the expression, “the name of the God of Israel,” in order to intimate that all nations will call upon the true God; for, as all nations have a knowledge of God that is natural to them, so all easily turn aside to superstition and false worship. (Romans 1:19.) But here he speaks of spreading the true religion through the whole world; and this makes it still more evident that the prophecy relates to the kingdom of Christ, under which true religion has at length penetrated into foreign and heathen nations.

16. From the uttermost part 128128    {Bogus footnote} of the earth. This verse contains two statements which have some appearance of being at variance with each other. It begins with a joyful description of the praises of God, and next passes on to complaints and lamentations, in which he bewails the treachery of transgressors, who overturn religion and godliness. So far as relates to praises, we have said that we can neither praise God nor call upon him, till he reveal himself to us, and give a taste of his goodness, that we may entertain hope and confident expectation of life. Hence those sayings of David,

“In the grave who shall praise thee, O Lord?
In death who shall confess to thee?” (Psalm 6:5.)

When we feel nothing but the wrath of God, we are dumb to his praises; and therefore when he says that the praises of God will be heard, he means that the gospel will be spread through the whole world; that men may acknowledge God to be their Father, and may thus break forth into his praise. “From the uttermost part” is a phrase that deserves attention; for at that time the praises of God were confined to Judea, and were not heard at a distance; but afterwards they began to resound everywhere. (Psalm 76:1, 2.)

Glory to the righteous. Some consider this to be spoken by all believers, as if the song were, “God is glorified on account of his righteousness.” Others read the two clauses as one, “We have heard that glory is given to the righteous God.” Those who think that the heralds of God’s praises are called “righteous,” bring out a very good sense, but do not attend to the word “Glory,” or at least are constrained to render the word צבי (tzēbī) joy. 129129    {Bogus footnote} He makes use of the preterite, “We have heard,” instead of the future tense; and his reason for doing so is, that he intended to cheer the hearts of the godly by some consolation; “We shall again hear the praises of God;” for this is more than if he had said, “They will be heard.” He speaks also in the first person, in order to include the whole body of the Church, and thus to awaken the attention of the godly.

God is called righteous; and we know that this expression frequently occurs in Scripture, but it belongs to him in a different manner from that in which it belongs to men; for men are called “righteous,” on account of the “righteousness” which has been communicated to them; but God, who is the fountain of righteousness, is called “righteous,” on account of what he performs. (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 7:9; 11:7.) And that is a proof of this congratulation and thanksgiving, because from the communication of this righteousness we obtain salvation and life; and therefore, wherever the righteousness of God is, it must be followed by praises and thanksgivings.

When the Prophet predicted these things, how incredible might they appear to be! for among the Jews alone was the Lord known and praised. (Psalm 76:2.) To them destruction is foretold, and next the publication of the word, and the celebration of the praises of God; but how could these things be done, when the people of God had been destroyed? Hence we may infer that there were few who believed these predictions. But now that those events have taken place, it is our duty to behold with admiration so great a miracle of God, because, when the Jews had been not only broken down, but almost annihilated, still there flashed from them a spark by which the whole world was enlightened, and all who were kindled by it burst forth into a confession of the truth.

My leanness. 130130    {Bogus footnote} This passage is explained in various ways; for some translate רזי(rāzī) secret, and others leanness. Those who translate it secret understand the Prophet to mean that a double secret has been revealed to him, because the Lord has determined to reward the good and to punish the wicked; for when men look only at the outward appearance of things, and see that the wicked succeed to their wish, and that the godly are overwhelmed by afflictions, they are distressed, and doubt whether the affairs of men are governed by the hand of God, or all things happen by chance; and Solomon shews that thoughts of this kind are the seed of ungodliness. (Ecclesiastes 8:11.) On this account the Psalmist also says, that he “entered into the sanctuary of God,” that he might examine the subject in another manner than by human reason. (Psalm 73:17.) If we adopt that interpretation, the meaning will be, “Though it appear as if there were no reward to the righteous, yet I hold this as a secret imparted to me, that it will be well with them; and although the wicked think that they will escape, yet I know that they will not pass unpunished.” But as this ingenuity appears to be too far-fetched, I prefer a more simple interpretation; and, besides, there immediately follows an interjection expressive of lamentation, אוי, (ōī,) Wo! so that I do not think that Isaiah speaks here about the righteous or about their reward.

Others more correctly explain it leanness; as if he had said, that through grief he shrinks and grows lean; for as the prosperous and flourishing condition of that people might be called “fatness,” so its wretched and distressed condition might be called “leanness.” Here the Prophet stands forth as the representative of the whole race; and when the Lord cuts it down, he justly complains of his “leanness.” This interpretation, I have said, is probable; for when the Prophet saw the people diminishing in numbers, he had good reason for bewailing that diminution. We know that, when the grace of God was very abundantly poured out, the ancient people was greatly diminished, and the posterity of Abraham was almost annihilated.

But we must see if the Prophet does not look farther than to the rejection of his nation, so as to bewail the condition of his bowels, when he foresees that the Church will be heavily distressed; for רז (rāz,) which some translate secret, may properly be understood to denote the internal part of the body. In this way the exclamation would be, “My bowels, or my entrails, are pained;” for in a pathetic discourse there is no absurdity in supposing that a word is supplied. When the Lord has extended his Church, it appears to be in a flourishing state, and free from all danger; but when its very inwards or bowels, that is, its own members, give it uneasiness, it is grievously tormented. Hypocrites arise, by whom it is more annoyed than by enemies who “are without.” (Revelation 22:15.)

Such is also the import of those groanings, אוי, (ōī,) wo to me; and Isaiah, I have no doubt, intended to intimate that the godly should not think that they will be happy in this world, but should believe that they must maintain a continual strife, even when they might imagine that there is nothing to hinder them from enjoying uninterrupted tranquillity and peace. He wishes to express the feeling of poignant grief which torments the Church inwardly, even in her very bowels; and this affliction is the more deeply to be lamented, because it cannot be avoided; for, as some one says, the Church can neither flee from internal and domestic enemies, nor put them to flight. Isaiah can scarcely find terms adequate to express this miserly

The treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously. These words abundantly confirm the expositions which have been already given. How heavy this affliction is, and how deeply it ought to be deplored, we ourselves have abundantly experienced, and still experience every day. Whence arose Popery, and all its corruption, but from this internal evil? for it was an imposthume (ἀπόστημα) bred in the very bowels of the Church, which sent forth offensive and diseased matter. How comes it also that, when the Church begins to revive, we see doctrine corrupted and discipline overturned not only by the common people, but by those who ought to have given a good example to others? Is it not because the Church is always subject to this evil?

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