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8. Assyria, the Lord's Instrument

Moreover the Lord said unto me, Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man’s pen concerning Maher-shalal-hash-baz. 2And I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah. 3And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said the Lord to me, Call his name Maher-shalal-hash-baz. 4For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria.

5The Lord spake also unto me again, saying, 6Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah’s son; 7Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks: 8And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.

9Associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye of far countries: gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces. 10Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us.

11For the Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying, 12Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. 13Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. 14And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken. 16Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. 17And I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. 18Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.

19And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? 20To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. 21And they shall pass through it, hardly bestead and hungry: and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward. 22And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness.

18. Behold, I. Here the Prophet not only testifies that he will wait patiently, but also gives an evidence of courage, by appearing in public along with the disciples whom he had gained to God, and who still remained. As if he had said, “Though others may withdraw, yet I am ready to obey thee, and I bring along with me those whom thou hast been pleased to preserve in a wonderful manner through my agency.” He therefore declares by these words his unshaken courage, and promises that he will persevere in faith and obedience to the Lord, though all should revolt.

And the children. By children are meant the various classes of servants, agreeably to the ordinary custom of the Hebrew, and also of the Latin language. 133133     The allusion is to the Latin noun Puer, to which might have been added the Greek noun Παἰς, and similar uses of the word denoting Child are found in modern languages. — Ed He speaks of the disciples whom he had formerly mentioned. Hence we see what is demanded from those who wish to be reckoned among the true disciples of the Lord. It is, to declare with Isaiah that they are submissive and ready to hear, and that, as soon as the Lord has spoken, they will yield immediate obedience. Now, teachers ought to bring disciples with them, and not merely to send them before; they ought, I say, to go before them, and by their example to point out the way, as was formerly explained, 134134     See page 94 where the difference between Come and Go up is explained. — Ed. (Isaiah 2:3;) otherwise they will have no authority in teaching. The apostle to the Hebrews applies this passage to Christ, (Hebrews 2:13,) and draws from it an instruction which ought to be a very powerful excitement to us, that considering ourselves to be followers not only of Isaiah, but of Christ himself, as our leader and instructor, we may press forward with greater alacrity.

Whom the Lord hath given me. By this the Prophet shows to whom our faith ought to be ascribed. It is to God, and to his undeserved election; for Isaiah taught publicly, admonished every person, and invited all without exception to come to God; but his doctrine is of advantage to those only who have been given to him by God. By given he means those whom God drew by an inward and secret operation of his Spirit, when the sound of the external voice fell on the ears of the multitude without producing any good effect. In like manner Christ declares that the elect were given to him by the Father. (John 17:6.) Thus we see that readiness to believe does not depend on the will of men; but that some of the multitude believe, because, as Luke tells us, they had been foreordained. (Acts 13:48.) Now, whom he foreordained he likewise calls, (Romans 8:30,) and efficaciously seals in them the proof of their adoption, that they may become obedient and submissive. Such, therefore, is the giving of which Isaiah now speaks. This applies strictly to Christ, to whom the Father presents and gives disciples, as it is said in the Gospel by John,

No man cometh to me, unless the Father hath drawn him.
(John 6:44.)

Hence it follows, that he is also appointed to be our guardian, to preserve us under his protection to the end. (John 10:28.) Wherefore he saith,

not one of those whom the Father hath given to me shall perish. (John 17:12.)

For signs and wonders. Some consider this passage to refer to miracles, but that is inapplicable, for the meaning is totally different, namely, that all the godly will be regarded not only with hatred, but even with abhorrence, as if they had been monsters; and that not only by strangers or by professed enemies, but even by Israel. We have experience of this at the present day; for papists look upon us with greater abhorrence than they look upon Mahometans or Jews, or even dogs or monsters. Though this is exceedingly base, we need not greatly wonder at it; for it was necessary that this prophecy should even now be fulfilled. It was experienced by Isaiah from his countrymen, and has been experienced by all others who have followed his doctrine.

Nor is it only in papists that we discover it, but in those who wish to be regarded as very closely connected with the Church, the greater part of whom either view us with strong dislike, or ridicule us, or, in a word, hold us to be monsters, because we are so anxious, and give ourselves so much uneasiness, about the salvation of the Church, the honor of God, and eternal life; and because we do not scruple to undergo so many dangers, such hatred, censure, reproach, banishment, poverty, hunger, nakedness, and, in a word, death itself. These things appear monstrous to them; for when they are so careful to protect their skin, how could they have a relish for the highest blessings? But that we may not be disturbed by their reproaches, we must arm ourselves with this exhortation of the Prophet.

From the Lord of hosts. To show how trifling and worthless is the conspiracy of the wicked multitude, he contrasts the God of armies with the pride of the whole world, and raises a lofty defiance; as if he had said, that he cared not though he were universally abhorred by men, because he knew that God was on his side.

Who dwelleth in Mount Zion. The addition of these words carries great weight; for although the people abounded in every kind of crimes and enormities, still they boasted that they were devoted to God, and, abusing his promises, condemned the true servants of God who reproved them. On the other hand, the Prophets, in order to shake off their false confidence and pride, declared that they were the servants of the only and true God, whom the people falsely boasted of worshipping in Mount Zion. God had not chosen it for his habitation as if, because he was bound to the spot, he would accept of false and spurious worship, but he wished to be sought and worshipped according to the rule of his word.

Accordingly, when Isaiah claims for himself God who dwelleth in Mount Zion, he sharply reproves hypocrites, because through false boasting they indulge in foolish pride whenever they say, The temple of the Lord, (Jeremiah 7:4,) for it was rather an idol in which they boasted contrary to the word. Though they snatched at the promises, yet they falsely tortured them against the true servants of God, as the papists at the present day are wont to torture them against us. The Prophets, therefore, distinguish God by this title, in order to tear the mask from hypocrites, who were accustomed to quote the mere name of the temple in opposition to the plain word of God. For this reason Isaiah now says, “Take us, if you choose, for monsters, yet God acknowledges us to be his own; and you cannot detest us without at the same time abhorring the God of Abraham and David, whose servants we are.”

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