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7

these I will bring to my holy mountain,

and make them joyful in my house of prayer;

their burnt offerings and their sacrifices

will be accepted on my altar;

for my house shall be called a house of prayer

for all peoples.

8

Thus says the Lord God,

who gathers the outcasts of Israel,

I will gather others to them

besides those already gathered.

 

The Corruption of Israel’s Rulers

9

All you wild animals,

all you wild animals in the forest, come to devour!


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7. These will I bring. By these modes of expression he describes what he had formerly stated, that foreigners who were formerly excluded from the Church of God, are called to it; so that henceforth the distinction between circumcision and uncircumcision shall be abolished. This cannot refer to proselytes, who were received into the number of God’s people by circumcision, for that would have been nothing new or uncommon; but he testifies that the grace of God shall be diffused throughout the whole world; and this cannot be accomplished without uniting the Gentiles to the Jews so as to form one body, which happened when the difference between circumcision and uncircumcision was taken out of the way. There is therefore nothing now to prevent Gentiles from ministering to God, seeing that they have been called into the temple, that is, into the assembly of believers. Not only so, but we saw a little before, that the priesthood is removed from the tribe of Levi, not only to the whole body of the people, but even to foreigners.

How strongly the Jews abhor this sentiment is well known; for, although they read these words of the Prophet, yet they reckon it to be utterly monstrous that the Gentiles should be called to this distinguished benefit of God which was especially intended for them. Yet the Prophet’s meaning is so plain, that it cannot without the greatest impudence be called in question. He extols this grace from the fruit which it yields; for true and perfect happiness is, to be reconciled to God and to enjoy his favor. We know, indeed, that wicked men indulge excessively in mirth; but that mirth is turned into gnashing of teeth, because the curse of God rests upon it. But God fills the hearts of believers with the most delightful joy, not only by showing that he is reconciled to them, but by the manifestation of his favor and kindness in their prosperity. Yet their highest joy is that which springs from “peace” of conscience, which Paul ascribes to “the kingdom of God,” (Romans 14:1-7) and which we enjoy when we are reconciled to God by Christ. (Romans 5:1)

Their burnt-offerings and sacrifices shall be acceptable. He promises that their sacrifices shall be acceptable to him, because all have been called on this condition, that they shall offer themselves and all that they have to God. By the word “sacrifices,” he means such spiritual worship of God as is enjoined in the Gospel; for the Prophet spoke in accordance with what was customary in his time, when the worship of God was wrapped up in a variety of ceremonies. But now, instead of sacrifices, we offer to God praises, thanksgivings, good works, and finally ourselves. When he declares that they shall be acceptable, let us not imagine that; this arises from their own value or excellence, but from God’s undeserved kindness; for he might justly reject them, if he looked at them in themselves. This ought to be a spur to excite in us a strong desire to worship God, when we see that our works, which are of no value, are accepted by God as if they had been pure sacrifices.

He adds, On my altar; because in no other manner could the sacrifices be acceptable to God than “on the altar,” by which “they were sanctified.” (Matthew 23:19) Thus all that we offer will be polluted, if it be not “sanctified” by Christ, who is our altar.

For my house shall be called a house of prayer. Formerly the temple was appointed for the Jews alone, whom in an especial manner the Lord desired to call upon him; for, when Paul shows that the Jews have a superiority over the Gentiles, he says that λατρεία, that is, “the worship of God,” is theirs. (Romans 9:4) Thus by an extraordinary privilege, such as the rest of the nations were not permitted to enjoy, a temple was built among them. But now the distinction has been removed, and all men, to whatsoever nation or place they belong, are freely admitted into the temple, that is, into the house of God. This temple has been enlarged to such a degree, that it extends to every part of the whole world; for all nations have been called to the worship of God.

Here we have the manifest difference between the Law and the Gospel; for under the Law the true worship of God was observed by one nation only, for whose sake the temple was especially dedicated to him; but now all are freely admitted without distinction into the temple of God, that they may worship him purely in it, that is, everywhere. We must attend to the form of expression, which is customary and familiar to the Prophets, who employ, as we have already said, figures that correspond to their own age, and, under the name of “Sacrifices” and of “the Temple,” describe the pure worship of God. He paints the spiritual kingdom of Christ, under which we may everywhere “lift up pure hands,” (1 Timothy 2:8) and call upon God; and, as Christ saith, God is not now to be adored in that temple, but “the true worshippers worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)

For this reason we see a fulfillment of this plain prophecy, namely, that “to all peoples the house of God hath become the house of prayer,” that all may “call upon him, Abba, Father,” (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6) that is, in every language; that henceforth the Jews may not boast that they alone have God. Thus the prophets were under a necessity of accommodating their discourse to their own time, and to the ordinary services of religion, that they might be understood by all; for the time of full revelation was not yet come, but the worship of God was clothed with various figures. Yet undoubtedly the temple, which had been consecrated to the name of God, was actually his house; for he testified by Moses that he would be in all places where he made mention of his name, (Exodus 20:24) and Solomon, at the dedication of the temple, said, “When they shall come to pray in this house, thou wilt hear in heaven, in thy habitation.” (1 Kings 8:30) And accordingly Christ reproves the Jews for “turning his Father’s house into a den of robbers,” (Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17) and connects this passage with a passage in the book of the Prophet Jeremiah 7:11

Christ calls the temple “the house of prayer,” with reference to that time when the Gospel had not yet been published; for although he was come, he was not yet known, and the ceremonies of the Law were not abolished. But when “the vail of the temple was rent,” (Matthew 27:51) and pardon of sins was proclaimed, these applauses of the temple ceased along with other ceremonies; for God began to be everywhere called upon by “all peoples.”

Yet it must here be observed that we are called into the Church, in order that we may call on God; for in vain do they boast who neglect prayer and true calling upon God, and yet hold a place in the Church. In whatever place we are, therefore, let us not neglect this exercise of faith; for we learn from the words of Isaiah, as it is also said, (Psalm 50:14) that this is the highest and most excellent sacrifice which God demands; so that the holiness of the temple consists in prayers being there offered continually.

8. The Lord Jehovah saith. Isaiah again confirms what he formerly testified as to the restoration of the people; for although he extolled in lofty terms the grace of God, by which he would deliver his people, yet the condition of the Church was such that promises of this kind appeared to be ridiculous. Such repetitions, therefore, are not superfluous, but were necessarily added in order to strengthen feeble minds, that they might be fully convinced of that which was otherwise incredible.

Who gathereth the outcasts of Israel. It is with reference to the subject in hand that he bestows on God this title; for it belongs to him to gather a scattered church, and the same words, “he gathereth the outcasts of Israel,” are used here in the same sense. (Psalm 147:2) Thus he promises that he will assemble them, and not them only, but that he will add to them various “peoples,” that the Church may be very numerously increased and multiplied. Whenever therefore we are drawn by various calamities of the Church to doubt as to his gathering them together, we ought to interpose this shield: “It belongeth to the Lord to gather the dispersed of Israel; and, though they are widely dispersed and scattered, yet he will easily and perfectly restore them.”

Still more will I gather upon him his gathered. I willingly keep by the literal meaning of the words of the Prophet. על (gnal) that is, “To,’ or “Upon;“ for he appears to me to have in view what he had said in the former verse, that the temple would be opened to all peoples; and he means that he will yet add many others to the Jews who have been gathered. This actually happened; for not only did he gather the dispersed in Babylon, but he also gathered other dispersions, which were frequent and almost of daily occurrence. Nor has he ever ceased to gather; so that he has added a large mass to those who have been gathered.

9. All ye beasts of the field. This prediction appears to be at variance with what goes before; for what the Prophet has hitherto said was full of the most delightful consolation, but now he appears to threaten fiercely, and to predict frightful ruin. These statements might indeed appear to be contradictory; but, after having comforted believers, it ought not to be thought inconsistent if he forewarn them of a future calamity that they might not lose courage when they saw everything near destruction, and that necessity might likewise prompt them to betake themselves more warmly and earnestly to the grace of God. There is also another reason, that hypocrites abuse the promises of God and hold them out under false pretenses, cherish unfounded hope, and insolently boast of those things which do not at all belong to them; and therefore Isaiah intended to take from them the ground of false boasting.

And thus his design was twofold; first, that the hearts of believers might not be discouraged by various calamities, which should bring them almost, to utter destruction, and that even when, amidst prosperity and peace, they beheld by faith at a distance a future calamity, they might rest satisfied with this single consolation; and secondly, that he might strike hypocrites with dread and horror, so that they might not exalt themselves by vain confidence, or freely indulge their sinful inclinations under the pretense of these promises. For this reason God calls not men, but savage “beasts,” that they might devour the people. He therefore forbids believers to be alarmed and tempted to unbelief, when these wild beasts shall be sent. And yet he intended also to strike terror into them, that he might arouse them to repentance, and to exhort them to seek the mercy of God, that the promises might not lose their value.

When he calls them “beasts of the field,” he means beasts of every kind, and includes not only the Babylonians and Assyrians, but Antiochus, the Romans, and other enemies of the people, who brought various calamities upon them. But he has chiefly in view the defeat which they received from the Babylonians, who carried them away into wretched bondage.




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