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The Righteousness of God’s Judgment


I was ready to be sought out by those who did not ask,

to be found by those who did not seek me.

I said, “Here I am, here I am,”

to a nation that did not call on my name.


I held out my hands all day long

to a rebellious people,

who walk in a way that is not good,

following their own devices;


a people who provoke me

to my face continually,

sacrificing in gardens

and offering incense on bricks;


who sit inside tombs,

and spend the night in secret places;

who eat swine’s flesh,

with broth of abominable things in their vessels;


who say, “Keep to yourself,

do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.”

These are a smoke in my nostrils,

a fire that burns all day long.


See, it is written before me:

I will not keep silent, but I will repay;

I will indeed repay into their laps


their iniquities and their ancestors’ iniquities together,

says the L ord;

because they offered incense on the mountains

and reviled me on the hills,

I will measure into their laps

full payment for their actions.


Thus says the L ord:

As the wine is found in the cluster,

and they say, “Do not destroy it,

for there is a blessing in it,”

so I will do for my servants’ sake,

and not destroy them all.


I will bring forth descendants from Jacob,

and from Judah inheritors of my mountains;

my chosen shall inherit it,

and my servants shall settle there.


Sharon shall become a pasture for flocks,

and the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down,

for my people who have sought me.


But you who forsake the L ord,

who forget my holy mountain,

who set a table for Fortune

and fill cups of mixed wine for Destiny;


I will destine you to the sword,

and all of you shall bow down to the slaughter;

because, when I called, you did not answer,

when I spoke, you did not listen,

but you did what was evil in my sight,

and chose what I did not delight in.


Therefore thus says the Lord G od:

My servants shall eat,

but you shall be hungry;

my servants shall drink,

but you shall be thirsty;

my servants shall rejoice,

but you shall be put to shame;


my servants shall sing for gladness of heart,

but you shall cry out for pain of heart,

and shall wail for anguish of spirit.


You shall leave your name to my chosen to use as a curse,

and the Lord G od will put you to death;

but to his servants he will give a different name.


Then whoever invokes a blessing in the land

shall bless by the God of faithfulness,

and whoever takes an oath in the land

shall swear by the God of faithfulness;

because the former troubles are forgotten

and are hidden from my sight.


The Glorious New Creation


For I am about to create new heavens

and a new earth;

the former things shall not be remembered

or come to mind.


But be glad and rejoice forever

in what I am creating;

for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy,

and its people as a delight.


I will rejoice in Jerusalem,

and delight in my people;

no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it,

or the cry of distress.


No more shall there be in it

an infant that lives but a few days,

or an old person who does not live out a lifetime;

for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth,

and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed.


They shall build houses and inhabit them;

they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.


They shall not build and another inhabit;

they shall not plant and another eat;

for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,

and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.


They shall not labor in vain,

or bear children for calamity;

for they shall be offspring blessed by the L ord

and their descendants as well.


Before they call I will answer,

while they are yet speaking I will hear.


The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,

the lion shall eat straw like the ox;

but the serpent—its food shall be dust!

They shall not hurt or destroy

on all my holy mountain,

says the L ord.


17. For, lo, I will create new heavens and a new earth. By these metaphors he promises a remarkable change of affairs; as if God had said that he has both the inclination and the power not only to restore his Church, but to restore it in such a manner that it shall appear to gain new life and to dwell in a new world. These are exaggerated modes of expression; but the greatness of such a blessing, which was to be manifested at the coming of Christ, could not be described in any other way. Nor does he mean only the first coming, but the whole reign, which must be extended as far as to the last coming, as we have already said in expounding other passages.

Thus the world is (so to speak) renewed by Christ; and hence also the Apostle (Hebrews 2:5) calls it “a new age,” and undoubtedly alludes to this statement of the Prophet. Yet the Prophet speaks of the restoration of the Church after the return from Babylon. This is undoubtedly true; but that restoration is imperfect, if it be not extended as far as to Christ; and even now we are in the progress and accomplishment of it, and those things will not be fulfilled till the last resurrection, which has been prescribed to be our limit.

The former things shall not be remembered. Some refer these words to heaven and earth; as if he had said that henceforth they shall have no celebrity and no name. But I choose rather to refer them to the former times; for he means that the joy at being restored shall be so great that they shall no longer remember their miseries. Or perhaps it will be thought preferable to view them as relating to benefits which, though they were worthy of being recorded, lost their name when God’s amazing- grace shone forth. In this sense the Prophet said elsewhere, “Remember ye not the former things.” (Isaiah 43:18.) Not that God wished the first deliverance to be set aside or blotted out of the hearts of believers; but because by comparison the one brought a kind of forgetfulness over the other, just as the sun, when he rises, deprives the stars of their brightness.

Let us remember that these things take place in us so far as we are renewed. But we are only in part renewed, and therefore we do not yet see a new heaven and a new earth. We need not wonder, therefore, that we continue to mourn and weep, since we have not entirely laid aside the old man, but many remains are still left. It is with us also that the renovation ought to begin; because we hold the first rank, and it is through our sin that “the creatures groan, and are subject to vanity,” as Paul shews. (Romans 8:20.) But when we shall be perfectly renewed, heaven and earth shall also be fully renewed, and shall regain their former state. And hence it ought to be inferred, as we have frequently remarked, that the Prophet has in his eye the whole reign of Christ, down to its final close, which is also called

“the day of renovation and restoration.” (Acts 3:21.)

18. But rejoice ye and be glad for ever. He exhorts believers to rejoice, in such a manner as they ought, on account of such a benefit bestowed by God. And this was added for the sake of amplification; because men do not adequately consider God’s other benefits, and especially that which is the highest and most excellent of all; for either they disregard them altogether, or value them less than they ought to do. On this account believers must be aroused and urged by such exhortations as these, that they may not chew themselves to be unthankful or unmindful, or think that it ought to be lightly passed by, that, having been redeemed by the hand of Christ, they carry in their hearts the pledge of eternal and heavenly life. That is the reason why Isaiah chews that believers do not give due praise for redemption in any other way than by continuing their joy through the whole course of their life, and employing themselves in celebrating the praises of God.

For, lo, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. At first sight this might be thought harsh; but an excellent meaning is obtained, that the ground of joy in the deliverance of the Church shall be so great as to remove every cloud of sadness. And, indeed, since even afflictions aid our salvation, (Romans 8:28,) we have good reason for rejoicing in them.

19. And I will be glad in Jerusalem. He expresses more than in the preceding verse; for by these words he means that he not only will give to men ground for rejoicing, but even will be a partaker with them in that joy. So great is his love toward us, that he delights in our prosperity not less than if he enjoyed it along with us. And hence we obtain no small confirmation of our faith, when we learn that God is moved, and so powerfully moved, by such an affection toward us. If we are in painful and distressed circumstances, he says that he is affected by grief and sorrow; and, on the other hand, if our condition is pleasant and comfortable, he says that he takes great pleasure in our prosperity. Hence also we have formerly seen that “the Spirit of the Lord is sad and vexed,” (Isaiah 63:10,) when that order which he demands and approves is overturned and confounded; and in another passage he takes upon himself the character of a husband who is satisfied with the love of his wife. (Isaiah 62:5.)

20. There shall be no more thence an infant of days. Some think that this points out the difference between the Law and the Gospel; because “the Law, as a schoolmaster,” (Galatians 3:24,) kept scholars in the first elements, but the Gospel leads us on to mature age. Others suppose it to mean that there will no longer be any distinction of age; because, where life is eternal, no line is drawn between the child and the old man. But I interpret the words of the Prophet in this manner, “Whether they are children or old men, they shall arrive at mature age so as to be always vigorous, like persons in the prime of life; and, in short, they shall always be healthful and robust;” for it is on account of our sins that we grow old and lose our strength. “All our days,” saith Moses, “pass away when thou art angry: we close our years quicker than a word. The days of our years in which we live are seventy years, or, at the utmost, eighty: what goeth beyond this in the strongest is toil and vexation; our strength passeth swiftly, and we fly away.” (Psalm 90:9, 10.) But Christ comes to repair our strength, and to restore and preserve our original condition.

For the son of a hundred years shall die young. It is proper to distinguish between the two clauses; for, after having said that the citizens of the Church shall be long-lived, so that no one shall be taken out of the world till he has reached mature age and fully completed his course, he likewise adds that, even in old age, they shall be robust. Although the greater part of believers hardly support themselves through weakness, and the strength of others decays even before the time, yet that promise is not made void; for, if Christ reigned truly and perfectly in us, his strength would undoubtedly flourish in us, and would invigorate both body and soul. To our sins, therefore, it ought to be imputed, that we are liable to diseases, pains, old age, and other inconveniences; for we do not permit Christ to possess us fully, and have not advanced so far in newness of life as to lay aside all that is old. 214214     “Tout le vieil homme.” “All the old man.”

Here it ought also to be observed, that blessings either of soul or body are found only in the kingdom of Christ, that is, in the Church, apart from which there is nothing but cursing. Hence it follows that all who have no share in that kingdom are wretched and unhappy; and, however fresh and vigorous they may appear to be, they are, nevertheless, in the sight of God, rotten and stinking corpses.

21 and 22. They shall build houses and inhabit them. In these verses he mentions what is written in the Law; for these are the blessings of the Law, that they who have obeyed God shall dwell in the houses which they have built, and shall gather fruit from the trees which they have planted. (Leviticus 26:10.) On the other hand, the disobedient shall be expelled from the houses which they built, and shall give place to foreigners, and shall be deprived of the fruits of the trees which they planted. “The Lord,” saith Isaiah, “shall protect you from that curse, so as to enjoy your property.” Now the Prophets hold out those things which relate to the present life, and borrow metaphors from them; but it is in order that they may teach us to rise higher and to embrace eternal and blessed life. We must not fix our whole attention on these transitory blessings, but must make use of them as ladders, that, being raised to heaven, we may enjoy eternal and immortal blessings. To the Church, which has been renewed, and which rests on nothing but God’s good pleasure and undeserved favor, is justly promised the enjoyment of those blessings of which unbelievers had deprived themselves.

According to the days of a tree. Some think that this is a promise of eternal life; as if men had the tree of life; but that is forged ingenuity, and far removed from the Prophet’s meaning. And I do wonder that commentators give themselves so much trouble in explaining this passage; for the Prophet speaks, not only of life, but of a peaceful condition of life; as if he had said, “Ye shall plant vineyards, and shall eat the fruit of them; and ye shall not be removed from this life before receiving the fruit, which shall be enjoyed, not only by yourselves, but by your children and posterity. He employs the metaphor of a tree, because he had formerly spoken of planting vineyards; and accordingly he promises that the people shall peacefully enjoy both their houses and their vineyards, and shall not be molested by enemies or robbers, and this peaceful condition shall last as long as the life of a tree.

And my elect shall perpetually enjoy 215215     “Ou, jouiront en vieil aage de l’oeuvre de leurs mains.” “Or, shall enjoy in old age the work of their hands.” the work of their hands. A work is said to be continued or perpetuated when the result of it is prosperous; for otherwise men would subject themselves to long and severe toil, and all to no purpose, if God did not grant success. Enemies will either take away or destroy what we have begun, and the completion of it will be out of our power; and therefore it is strictly said to be continued, not when merely some progress is made, but when it is brought to a close. Here it ought to be observed, that we cannot possess our wealth and have the peaceful and lawful enjoyment of it in any other way than by dwelling in the kingdom of Christ, who is the only heir of the world, and without being ingrafted into his body. Wicked men may indeed enjoy, for many years, the good things of this life; but they will continually be uneasy, and will wretchedly devour themselves, so that even possession shall be destructive and deadly; for it is only by faith that we obtain all that belongs to a blessed life, and they who have not faith cannot be members of Christ.

23. They shall not toil in vain. He enumerates other kinds of blessings which God promises to the kingdom of Christ; for, although God always blessed his people, yet the blessings were in some measure suspended till the coming of Christ, in whom was displayed full and complete happiness. In a word, both Jews and Gentiles shall be happy, in all respects, under the reign of Christ. Now, as it is a token of God’s wrath and curse when we obtain no advantage front our labor, so, on the other hand, it is a token of blessing when we clearly see the fruit of our labor. For this reason he says that they who shall have returned from captivity, in order that they may obtain a true and complete deliverance, shall not spend their labor in vain or lose their pains. The Law threatens the death of relatives, destructive wars, losses of property, and terror in their hearts. (Leviticus 26:22; Deuteronomy 28:48.) Here, on the contrary, are promised fertility, peace, the fruit of labor, and repose. And blessings of this kind ought to be carefully observed; for there are few who, amidst their labors, think of the blessing of God, so as to ascribe everything to him alone, and to be fully convinced that they will accomplish nothing whatever unless the Lord grant to them a prosperous result. Wherefore, as every blessing should be sought from God, so, when it has been received, thanksgiving should be rendered for it to God alone.

And they shall not bring forth in terror. When it is said that women “shall not bring forth in terror,” some explain it to mean, that they shall have no uneasiness or dread of childbirth, because they shall be free from pain. We know that this punishment was inflicted on the woman on account of sin, to bring forth with difficulty, and to be in danger of death. Children are brought into the world with fear and trembling, when there is any expectation of war; and it is probable that the Prophet rather looks to this, that there shall be such settled peace that neither women nor men shall have any reason to fear; for this must be viewed as relating to both parents, who will have no dread about their children, as commonly happens when any danger is threatened.

For they shall be the seed of the blessed of Jehovah. This reason is highly appropriate; for whence come fears and terrors, whence come alarms, but from the curse of God? When the curse has been removed, the Prophet therefore says justly that parents, together with their offspring, shall be free from dread and anxious solicitude; because they shall be convinced that they shall always be safe and sound through the favor of God.

And their offspring with them. This is contrasted with childlessness, which is reckoned in the number of the curses of God; and therefore it is the same as if he had said, “I will no longer deprive them of their children, but will cause them to enjoy them, along with the rest of the blessings which I shall bestow upon them.”

24. Before they cry, I will listen. A remarkable promise; for nothing is more desirable than to have God reconciled to us, and to have it in our power to draw near to him with freedom and boldness; for, although we are surrounded by innumerable distresses and calamities, yet we cannot be miserable so long as we are at liberty to betake ourselves to the Lord. Here therefore the Lord promises that we shall not pray in vain. Yet this was also promised to the fathers under the Law. It is certain that, since the beginning of the world, God listened to the fathers, to all that called upon him; for this is the most valuable fruit of faith. But he confirms this more and more. Because the Jews would be exiles for a long time, the Lord solemnly declares that he will not permit them any longer to languish in banishment, and will no longer delay his assistance, but will “listen to them even before they cry.”

This relates chiefly to the kingdom of Christ, through whom we are heard and have access to God the Father, as Paul admirably explains. (Ephesians 2:18; 3:12.) The fathers indeed enjoyed the same access, and there was no other way in which they could be heard but through Christ; but the door was still narrow and might be said to be shut, whereas now it has been most widely and perfectly thrown open. Under the law the people were wont to stand at a distance in the porch; but now nothing hinders us from entering into the sanctuary itself, because

“the veil of the temple hath been rent.” (Matthew 27:51.)

Thus we have admission into heaven through Christ,

“that we may approach with freedom and boldness to the throne of grace, to obtain mercy and find needful assistance.”
(Hebrews 4:16.)

A question will be put. “Are there no believers in the world, and is there no kingdom of Christ, in the present day? For it does not appear that God is so ready to render assistance, and there is no visible fruit of our prayers.” I reply. Though it becomes fully evident that we have been heard when the event actually proves it, yet God does not in the meantime overlook us; for he does not permit us to faint, but supports us by the power of his Spirit, that we may wait for him patiently. Nor does he delay, as men do, because he has need of time, but because he wishes to exercise and try our patience. In a word, there are two ways in which God listens to us; first, when he renders assistance openly; and secondly, when he aids us by the power of his Spirit, that we may not sink under the weight of afflictions. And if this doctrine were deeply fixed in the hearts of men, they would fly to God more readily and boldly, and would not dispute so eagerly about calling on saints. For how comes it that men contrive for themselves such a variety of intercessors, to whom they betake themselves rather than to Christ, but because they do not receive that doctrine, and because they reject such large and bountiful promises?

25. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together. He means that everything shall be fully restored, when Christ shall reign. And here it appears as if there were an implied comparison between Adam and Christ. We know that all the afflictions of the present life flowed from the sin of the first man; for at that time we were deprived of the dominion and sovereignty which God had given to man (Genesis 1:28) over animals of every kind, all of which at first undoubtedly bowed cheerfully to the dominion of man, and were obedient to his will; but now the most of them rise up against man, and even carly on mutual war against each other. Thus, when wolves, bears, lions, and other savage animals of that kind, are hurtful to man and to other beasts from which we obtain some advantage, and when even animals which ought to have been useful to man are hostile to him, this ought to be imputed to his sin, because his disobedience overthrew the order of things. But since it is the office of Christ to bring back everything to its condition and order, that is the reason why he declares that the confusion or ruin that now exists in human affairs shall be removed by the coming of Christ; because at that time, corruptions having been taken away, the world shall return to its first origin.

And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. “The lion” shall eat harmlessly, and shall no longer seek his prey. The serpent, satisfied with his dust, shall wrap himself in it, and shall no longer hurt by his envenomed bite. In a word, all that is disordered or confused shall be restored to its proper order. Yet beyond all controversy the Prophet speaks allegorically of bloody and violent men, whose cruel and savage nature shall be subdued, when they submit to the yoke of Christ. But first we must carefully consider that confusion which befell all the creatures in consequence of the fall of man; for if this were not taken into view, it would be impossible for us to have sufficiently just and correct views of this blessing of restoration. At the same time, we must keep in remembrance what we said in expounding a similar allegory in the eleventh chapter. 216216     Commentary on Isaiah, vol. 1, p. 383. Here we are taught what is the nature of men before the Lord convert them and receive them into his fold; for they are cruel and untamed beasts, and only begin to abstain from doing any injury, when the Lord subdues their wicked inclination and their furious desire to do harm.

In all my holy mountain. This is added because, when rubbish and filth have been taken out of the way, the Lord will gather to himself a Church without spot. By the word all he means cleansing. Yet we ought not to think it strange that still so many are ferocious; for there are few that are the true inhabitants of God’s mountain, few that are upright and faithful, even among those who profess to be Christians. Seeing that the old man still reigns and is vigorous in them, contentions and wars must also exist and prevail amongst them.

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