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The Future House of God


The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.



In days to come

the mountain of the L ord’s house

shall be established as the highest of the mountains,

and shall be raised above the hills;

all the nations shall stream to it.


Many peoples shall come and say,

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the L ord,

to the house of the God of Jacob;

that he may teach us his ways

and that we may walk in his paths.”

For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,

and the word of the L ord from Jerusalem.


He shall judge between the nations,

and shall arbitrate for many peoples;

they shall beat their swords into plowshares,

and their spears into pruning hooks;

nation shall not lift up sword against nation,

neither shall they learn war any more.


Judgment Pronounced on Arrogance


O house of Jacob,

come, let us walk

in the light of the L ord!


For you have forsaken the ways of your people,

O house of Jacob.

Indeed they are full of diviners from the east

and of soothsayers like the Philistines,

and they clasp hands with foreigners.


Their land is filled with silver and gold,

and there is no end to their treasures;

their land is filled with horses,

and there is no end to their chariots.


Their land is filled with idols;

they bow down to the work of their hands,

to what their own fingers have made.


And so people are humbled,

and everyone is brought low—

do not forgive them!


Enter into the rock,

and hide in the dust

from the terror of the L ord,

and from the glory of his majesty.


The haughty eyes of people shall be brought low,

and the pride of everyone shall be humbled;

and the L ord alone will be exalted on that day.


For the L ord of hosts has a day

against all that is proud and lofty,

against all that is lifted up and high;


against all the cedars of Lebanon,

lofty and lifted up;

and against all the oaks of Bashan;


against all the high mountains,

and against all the lofty hills;


against every high tower,

and against every fortified wall;


against all the ships of Tarshish,

and against all the beautiful craft.


The haughtiness of people shall be humbled,

and the pride of everyone shall be brought low;

and the L ord alone will be exalted on that day.


The idols shall utterly pass away.


Enter the caves of the rocks

and the holes of the ground,

from the terror of the L ord,

and from the glory of his majesty,

when he rises to terrify the earth.


On that day people will throw away

to the moles and to the bats

their idols of silver and their idols of gold,

which they made for themselves to worship,


to enter the caverns of the rocks

and the clefts in the crags,

from the terror of the L ord,

and from the glory of his majesty,

when he rises to terrify the earth.


Turn away from mortals,

who have only breath in their nostrils,

for of what account are they?

12. For the day of the LORD of hosts will be on every one that is proud and lofty In this verse he confirms the same thing more fully and from the vehement manner in which he heaps up words, we may easily infer how bold was the wickedness which at that time abounded. But we shall not wonder that he labors so hard to subdue the arrogance of men, if we consider how difficult it is to bend the stubbornness of those who, relying on their wealth, are afraid of nothing, and who suppose that the design of their elevated rank is, that whatever they do shall pass unpunished. For even at the present day we experience how sensitive and passionate those men are who make arrogant claims for themselves, and how obstinately they reject all admonitions. And this is also the reason why the Prophet uses sharp language against theme instead of threatening vengeance, in general terms, against the whole nation.

Yet it is not against the princes alone, whose high rank raised them far above other men, that his invectives are launched; for not only they, but even persons of the lowest rank, often swell with pride; and, as the common proverb runs, “Every man carries within him the heart of a king.” In like manner, we find that even the basest persons, if you do but prick them with a pill, vomit out the poison of intolerable arrogance. Since, therefore, this vice was so widely spread, Isaiah includes both the highest and the lowest of the people, declaring that in proportion to the forbearance which God had exercised toward them is the severity of the impending judgment; for, in consequence of their abundance, their hearts had swollen to fierceness.

Moreover, though the letter ל, (lamed,) 4545     ליהוה The natural rendering of “Quoniam dies Iehovae exercituum super omnem superbum et exelsum erit“ appears to be what I have given above, for the day of the Lord of hosts will be on every one that is proud and lofty. But if Jehovae be in the dative, and not in the genitive case, the ambiguity might have been partly removed by some such collocation as the following: — Quoniam Jehovae exercituum erit dies, which might have meant, For to the Lord of hosts there will be a day, or, the Lord of hosts will have a day; and such an emphatic meaning of the phrase must have been intended by our author. — Ed which is the sign of the dative case, be sometimes superfluous, yet in this passage it retains its force; for it would appear that Isaiah appoints a fixed day, as usually happens in judicial trials. Accordingly, I interpret it to mean that God himself hath previously appointed a day on which proud men must be summoned to the judgment-seat of God, to receive a sentence of condemnation.

We may also learn from these words that God avows himself to be the enemy of all the proud. This appointing of a day is therefore to the same effect as if God declared that he cannot endure men wickedly to indulge in pride, and that they who unduly exalt themselves cannot escape being crushed by his hand. And if our minds were sincerely convinced of this, who would not abhor pride, which provokes the anger of God against us? If any person choose rather to interpret (superbum et elatum) proud and lofty as in the neuter gender, meaning that which is proud and lofty, we must understand them to refer to the fortresses, bulwarks, and fortifications; but the rules of grammar do not admit of their being applied in any other way than to persons.

13. Upon all the cedars of Lebanon The allegory which is here introduced, about the trees of Lebanon and the lofty mountains, instead of obscuring, sheds light on the subject; for however high may be the wishes or endeavors of a mortal man, yet he will never be able to reach the height of the mountains and the lofty trees, which it is as easy for God to throw down as for a breath of wind to scatter the fallen leaves. Accordingly, in what may be called a painting, Isaiah shows to proud men how idle and foolish they are in believing that their elevation will be their defense. There is also an implied exaggeration, which must have contributed to heighten the terror. It cannot be supposed that God is actually angry with the mountains and trees, or that, having changed his purpose, he throws down what he has built up; but in the harmless creatures Isaiah holds out to view the judgment of God, in order more fully to convince wicked and unprincipled men that their presumption will not pass unpunished. Thus we see the reason why he mixes up the metaphors of cedars, oaks, and mountains

15. And upon every lofty tower What he adds about towers and walls is not figurative or metaphorical. We know how men, when they think that they are well defended, congratulate themselves that they no longer need the assistance of God. Accordingly, under the name of towers and walls Isaiah mentions the object of false confidence; for if any place seem to be impregnable, there do irreligious men build their nest, that they may look down from it on heaven and earth; for they imagine that they are placed beyond all the uncertainties of fortune. Isaiah therefore threatens that, when it shall please God to humble men, he will throw down all the defenses on which they place a false confidence. And although those things are not in themselves evil, yet because they receive too large a share of our attention, it is with great propriety that Isaiah sharpens his pen against them.

To the same purpose is what he says about horses and chariots; for, as we are told by Micah, because men have improperly relied on earthly riches, they must be altogether deprived of them, that they may owe this preservation entirely to the hand of God. (Micah 5:10.) A little before, he had reproved them for the abundance of their horses (verse 7); he now addresses them about the judgment of God, and warns them that, as the only possible way of gaining the favor of God, he must take from the Jews all their horsemen, that they may no longer place sinful reliance on earthly support.

16. And upon all ships of Tarshish Tarshish was unquestionably the Hebrew name for Cilicia; and as the Jews had much traffic with that nation, Scripture frequently mentions the ships of Tarshish, which are so called, because they sailed on that sea. Navigation cannot, indeed, be condemned on its own account; for, by importing and exporting articles of merchandise, it is of great advantage to mankind. Nor can any fault be found with this mode of intercourse between nations; for it is the will of God that the whole human race should be joined together by, mutual acts of kindness. But as it most frequently happens that abundance leads to pride and cruelty, Isaiah reproves this kind of merchandise, which was the chief source of the wealth of the land. Besides, in that merchandise which is carried on with distant and foreign nations, there is often a large amount of tricks and dishonesty, and no limit set to the desire of gain. First, then, Isaiah means that the Jews will be deprived of riches, that they may learn to submit to God. Secondly, he describes covetousness and unlawful gains by means of a sign, as if one were to express murder by holding out a bloody sword.

And upon elegant pictures This second part of the verse shows still more clearly that the Prophet condemns navigation, which had brought many corruptions into the land. It is too frequent and common that riches are followed by luxury, effeminacy, and a superfluity of pleasures, which we commonly see in wealthy countries and commercial cities; for those who trade by sea in distant countries are not satisfied with the commodities obtained at home, but carry away new luxuries which were formerly unknown. Since, therefore, wealth is usually the mother of superfluity, the Prophet here mentions costly furniture, as if he had said that the Jews, by adorning their houses at great expense, draw down upon themselves the judgment of God; for he employs the word pictures, by a well-known figure of speech, to denote rich tapestry, and the productions of Phrygia, and vessels framed with consummate skill

It is certain that the manners of men are corrupted, when they eagerly pursue, in every direction, superfluous enjoyments And we see how destruction was brought on the Roman Empire by delicacies of this nature; for before they traveled into Greece, the greatest moderation prevailed among them; and no sooner had Asia been vanquished than they began to grow soft and effeminate; and when their eyes were dazzled by pictures, furniture, precious stones, and tapestry and their nostrils regaled by ointments and perfumes, all their senses were immediately overpowered, and, by imitating the luxury of the East as a higher form of civilization, they began gradually to indulge in every kind of debauchery.

17. And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down The Prophet declares that he had his eye on men, when he described the various kinds of loftiness; for God is not displeased saith the steep mountains or tall cedars, which he created, but informs us that the whole evil lies in men, who vainly trust to what is high and lofty. It may be objected, that it frequently happens that wicked men are not rendered more humble by chastisement, but, on the contrary, become more fierce and obstinate, as is evident from the case of Pharaohs whose hardness of heart no plagues could subdue, (Exodus 8:15, and 9:34;) and consequently that what the Prophet here threatens does not always take place. I reply, he does not describe the effect of chastisement, as if God bent rebellious men to obey hills; but the meaning of this passage is, that, although the hearts of the reprobate be not changed, yet the Lord will not cease to inflict punishment upon them, till their haughtiness and presumption are brought low. For, trusting to their wealth and fortifications, they congratulate themselves, as we have said, on their safety, and do not fear God. But whatever may be the nature of their defenses, the Lord will easily subdue and lay them low, and that not only by one or another chastisement, but by chastisements so numerous and so severe, that they will at length be beaten down and subdued, will cease to rise up against him, and will acknowledge that they gain nothing by their insolence and presumption. The next clause, and the LORD alone shall be exalted, has been already explained.

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