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The Eternal Covenant of Peace


Sing, O barren one who did not bear;

burst into song and shout,

you who have not been in labor!

For the children of the desolate woman will be more

than the children of her that is married, says the L ord.


Enlarge the site of your tent,

and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out;

do not hold back; lengthen your cords

and strengthen your stakes.


For you will spread out to the right and to the left,

and your descendants will possess the nations

and will settle the desolate towns.



Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed;

do not be discouraged, for you will not suffer disgrace;

for you will forget the shame of your youth,

and the disgrace of your widowhood you will remember no more.


For your Maker is your husband,

the L ord of hosts is his name;

the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,

the God of the whole earth he is called.


For the L ord has called you

like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit,

like the wife of a man’s youth when she is cast off,

says your God.


For a brief moment I abandoned you,

but with great compassion I will gather you.


In overflowing wrath for a moment

I hid my face from you,

but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,

says the L ord, your Redeemer.



This is like the days of Noah to me:

Just as I swore that the waters of Noah

would never again go over the earth,

so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you

and will not rebuke you.


For the mountains may depart

and the hills be removed,

but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,

and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,

says the L ord, who has compassion on you.



O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted,

I am about to set your stones in antimony,

and lay your foundations with sapphires.


I will make your pinnacles of rubies,

your gates of jewels,

and all your wall of precious stones.


All your children shall be taught by the L ord,

and great shall be the prosperity of your children.


In righteousness you shall be established;

you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear;

and from terror, for it shall not come near you.


If anyone stirs up strife,

it is not from me;

whoever stirs up strife with you

shall fall because of you.


See it is I who have created the smith

who blows the fire of coals,

and produces a weapon fit for its purpose;

I have also created the ravager to destroy.


No weapon that is fashioned against you shall prosper,

and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment.

This is the heritage of the servants of the L ord

and their vindication from me, says the L ord.


1. Shout. After having spoken of the death of Christ, he passes on with good reason to the Church; that we may feel mere deeply in ourselves what is the value and efficacy of his death. We cannot behold it in Christ, if he be viewed by himself; and therefore we must come to his body, which is the Church; because Christ suffered for the Church, and not for himself. And this is the order in our Confession of Faith 6161     “En nos articles de foy.” “In our articles of faith.” for, after having professed that we believe in Christ, who suffered and was crucified for us, we add that we believe in the Church, 6262     Our author evidently speaks of what is usually called “The Apostle’s Creed.” ­ Ed. which flowed, as it were, from his side. Accordingly, after having discoursed concerning the death and resurrection and triumph of Christ, he properly comes down to the Church, which ought never to be separated from her Head, that each individual believer may learn by his own experience that Christ has not suffered in vain. And if he had not mentioned this doctrine, believers could not have so well strengthened their hearts by the hope of restoring the Church. This congratulation plainly shows that, when Christ shall come forth as a conqueror over death, he will not merely conquer for himself as an individual, but will, at the same time, breathe life into his body.

Thou barren, that didst not bear. He calls the Church “barren,” because no offspring could be expected from her, so long as she groaned under wretched bondage; for if any one had judged of her from her outward condition, he would have concluded that she was very near destruction. And even apart from her external wretchedness, there was nothing pure within; everything was corrupted and defiled by superstitions; for they had degenerated into the idolatrous rites of the Gentiles.

The children of the widow. He calls the Church not merely “Barren,” but a “Widow,” though either of them might have taken away the hope of having offspring; but when these two are combined, what else can be looked for than wretched destruction? But against such accumulated distress he bids her be of good courage, because she shall have more children than the married woman.

This passage may be explained in two ways; either as a comparison of the Church with the Gentiles, who flourished like “a married woman,” or as a comparison with that condition in which the Church was before the captivity. Both senses will be perfectly admissible, but I prefer to adopt the more simple view; for I do not think that it is a comparison between two conditions of the Church, but that it is an ordinary form of expression which the Prophet employs in order to denote that this extraordinary fertility of the Church will be at variance with what usually takes place, so that men may not judge of her condition by the ordinary course of nature; because the work of God will be extraordinary and wonderful. And yet I acknowledge that she was at that time in widowhood; for God had long before sent to her by his servants a bill of divorcement, and had actually divorced that nation, by driving it into banishment. But the Prophet declares that this punishment will be temporary, as we shall immediately see more clearly.

2. Widen the place of thy tabernacles. He continues his argument under other metaphors, and promises that the Lord will not only restore his Church, but will bestow upon her a condition far more excellent. They who think that the Church is compared in this passage to a synagogue are, in my opinion, mistaken, and only succeed in increasing the obstinacy of the Jews, who perceive that the Prophet’s meaning is tortured. I do indeed acknowledge that these things relate to the kingdom of Christ, and that they were at length fulfilled as soon as the Gospel began to be preached; but it does not therefore follow that the Prophet did not, at the same time, keep his eye upon that period which preceded the coming of Christ.

This prophecy began to be fulfilled under Cyrus, who gave the people liberty to return, and afterwards extended to Christ, in whom it has its full accomplishment. The Church therefore conceived, when the people returned to their native country; for the body of the people was gathered together from which Christ should proceed, in order that the pure worship of God and true religion might again be revived. Hitherto, indeed, this fertility was not visible; for the conception was concealed, as it were, in the mother’s womb, and no outward appearance of it could be seen; but afterwards the people were increased, and after the birth the Church grew from infancy to manhood, till the Gospel was preached. This was the actual youth of the Church; and next follows the age of manhood, down to Christ’s last coming, when all things shall be fully accomplished.

All these things must be taken together, if we wish to learn the Prophet’s real meaning. In this way Zechariah 2:5 Malachi 4: 2 and Haggai encouraged the people by the hope of their future condition, when they saw that little progress was made in building the temple; for they promised that “the glory of the latter temple should be greater than the glory of the former.” (Haggai 2:9) This was not at all visible, and therefore they extended those promises till Christ; and by hope and confidence in him the people must have been encouraged to build the temple. Consequently, this consolation was common to the Jews who lived under the Law, and to us who see more clearly in Christ this restoration of the Church.

The curtains of thy tents. The metaphor is borrowed from tabernacles, which were extensively used in that country. The Church is compared to them, because it has no solid building in the world; for it appears to be wandering and unsettled, in consequence of being necessarily moved from one place to another on account of various changes. But still I am fully persuaded that the Prophet had in his eye that former deliverance (as we have stated to have been customary with the prophets) when, being led through the wilderness, they dwelt in tents for forty years; for which reason they kept a public festival every year by the command of God. (Leviticus 23:39­43)

It will be objected that the building which is erected by the ministers of the Word is so solid that it ought not to be compared to “tabernacles.” But I reply, this metaphor of “tabernacles” relates rather to the outward aspect of the Church than to its spiritual and (what, may be called) its internal condition; for the actual building of the Church is nothing else than the kingdom of God, which is not fading or similar to tents. Yet the Church does not cease to be conveyed from one place to another; for it has no stable or permanent habitation. In short, its solid firmness is such that it surpasses the best fortified citadels; for, relying on the invincible power of God, it scorns all danger. On the other hand, it resembles “tents,” because earthly wealth, forces, and strength are not its support.

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