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66. Judgment and Hope

Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? 2For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. 3He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. 4I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.

5Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his word; your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed. 6A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the Lord that rendereth recompence to his enemies. 7Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child. 8Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children. 9Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the Lord: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God. 10Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her: 11That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory. 12For thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees. 13As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem. 14And when ye see this, your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like an herb: and the hand of the Lord shall be known toward his servants, and his indignation toward his enemies. 15For, behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. 16For by fire and by his sword will the Lord plead with all flesh: and the slain of the Lord shall be many. 17They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine’s flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the Lord. 18For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory. 19And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal, and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles. 20And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the Lord, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord. 21And I will also take of them for priests and for Levites, saith the Lord. 22For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain. 23And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord. 24And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.

23. From a month to his month, and from a Sabbath to his Sabbath. 230230     “Depuis un mois jusques a un autre mois, et depuis un Sabbat jusques a son autre Sabbat.” “From one month till another month, and from one Sabbath till his other Sabbath.” The Prophet again points out what shall be the difference between the nature of the spiritual worship of God which shall be under the reign of Christ and of the carnal worship which was under the Law. Sacrifices were offered every month at the new moon. There were Sabbaths, and other festivals, and solemn days, which they carefully observed. But under the reign of Christ there shall be a constant and uninterrupted solemnity; for there are not fixed and stated days of sacrifices on which we must go to Jerusalem, or offer anything in one place or in another; but our oblations, festivals, and rejoicings are continued from day to day in unbroken succession. Yet he alludes to the ancient custom of sacrifices as we have already said that the prophets are frequently accustomed to do.

So then the Lord wishes to have “pure sacrifices” offered to him daily, (1 Peter 2:5,) not such as were formerly offered under the Law or are now offered by Papists, who either rely foolishly on their ceremonies, as if they were expiations of crime, or basely venture to sacrifice Christ, 231231     “Ou mesmes d’une audace desesperee osent se vanter qu’ils sacrifient Jesus Christ.” “Or even with desperate audacity dare to boast that they sacrifice Jesus Christ.” but spiritual sacrifices, that we may reverence and adore God with a pure and sincere worship. (John 4:24.) As to the opinion held by some, that this passage proves the abrogation of the Law and of ancient ceremonies, it does not appear to me to rest on sufficient grounds, it is indeed certain that those legal ceremonies have been set aside, and that may be gathered from this passage; but in proof of that point I would choose to employ other passages which contain stronger evidence. There is only here a contrast between the Sabbath and festivals which were celebrated under the Law, and the perpetual Sabbath which we have at the present day. (Hebrews 4:9, 10.)

24. And they shall go forth. We must not here attempt to obtain subtle and ingenious interpretations; for he simply informs those who shall be adopted into the Church that they shall see, all around them, the dreadful vengeance of God. Yet there is an implied contrast between the straits of the calamity and the free departure; as if he had said, “Out of the dark prison in which they had been confined they shall again come forth to the light.”

And shall see the dead bodies of men. He does not mean that this slaughter shall take place in the assembly of believers; for this would greatly diminish the happiness of the Church, in which God displays all testimonies of joy and gladness. But as he formerly spoke of the perpetual glory by which he shall dignify his people, so he now threatens the punishment which he shall inflict on the reprobate, that the godly may be more careful to keep themselves in the fear of God.

And their fire shall not be extinguished. When he says that they shall be tormented by “fire,” this mode of expression, as I have formerly remarked, 232232     Commentary on Isaiah, vol. 2 p. 387. is metaphorical. And this is clearly evident from the succeeding clause; for worms will not be formed out of the earth to gnaw the hearts of unbelievers. The plain meaning, therefore, is, that the wicked shall have a bad conscience as an executioner, to torment them without end, and that torment awaits them greater than all other torments; and finally, that they shall tremble and be agitated in a dreadful and shocking manner, as if a worm were gnawing the heart of a man, or a fire were consuming it, and yet thus consumed, he did not die.

And they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh. Because the wicked are now held in the highest honor, and from their lofty position look down with contempt on good men, the Prophet threatens a shocking change; for, along with unutterable torments, they shall also endure the deepest disgrace; as it is just and right that they who despised and reproached the glory of God shall be loaded with every reproach, and shall be the objects of abhorrence to angels and to the whole world.

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