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1. A Rebellious Nation

The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. 2Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. 3The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. 4Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.

5Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. 6From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. 7Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. 8And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. 9Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.

10Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. 11To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. 12When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? 13Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. 14Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. 15And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.

16Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; 17Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. 18Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 19If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: 20But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

21How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers. 22Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water: 23Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them. 24Therefore saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies:

25And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin: 26And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city. 27Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.

28And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the Lord shall be consumed. 29For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen. 30For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water. 31And the strong shall be as tow, and the maker of it as a spark, and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them.

21. How is the faithful city become an harlot! In order to make the rebuke more forcible, and the crime of the people more shocking, in having thus departed from God and from all uprightness, he cries aloud as if he had seen some monstrous thing; and certainly it was a change fitted to awaken horror, that a nation devoted to God, and chosen to a royal priesthood, (Exodus 19:6,) had fallen from lofty piety to the lowest sink of wickedness. More especially he speaks of the city of Jerusalem, which was God’s sanctuary and royal abode. He complains that the city which had formerly been a guardian of justice is a den of robbers; that she who formerly was a chaste and pure virgin hath become a harlot, To strike the deeper shame into the degenerate Jews, who had departed widely from their holy fathers, he assumes the air of a person astonished, and asks himself how this could possibly have happened.

The faithful city By the word faithful he alludes, in my opinion, to the conjugal fidelity which a wife ought to preserve to her husband. The signification is undoubtedly more extensive; but when I look at the connection of the passage I do not hesitate to say that faithful means chaste; for immediately afterwards he employs another term in contrast with it, calling her an harlot. Whereas she once was a virtuous wife, faithful to the marriage-contract, she has now become an harlot, and her base conduct brings not a blush on her countenance. The Scriptures frequently call the Church the wife of God. (Hosea 2:19, 20.) That honorable rank Jerusalem held, so long as she maintained spiritual chastity, and continued in the pure and lawful worship of God; but as soon as she departed from it she became an harlot.

This astonishment of the Prophet was undoubtedly joined with the deepest grief; for we ought to look upon it as something monstrous when men revolt from God, and refuse that allegiance which they have promised to render; nor is it possible that right-hearted men, when they behold such a revolt, can fail to be affected with the most poignant grief. We read that the angels in heaven rejoice at the conversion of one sinner; (Luke 15:7, 10;) and therefore they cannot but mourn over the final ruin of any sinner. How much more then will they bewail the ruin and destruction of a whole state and Church!

Besides, that astonishment conveys also a complaint; as if the Prophet had said, “O Jerusalem, from what a flourishing condition hast thou fallen! Into what distress hast thou plunged thyself! What shame and disgrace hast thou brought upon thee!” When the flourishing state in which she had been, and the respect that had been paid to her in former times, are called to her remembrance, it ought to produce a still deeper impression on her mind; for she who was at one time the respected mother of a family is naturally more careful about her honor and reputation than one who has spent her whole life in base and licentious conduct.

It was full of judgment He shows what fruits were produced by that allegiance to God at a former period. We may take judgment as but another name for uprightness; or, if it be thought preferable, we may call it justice when men render to every man his own, and judgment when the cause of the innocent is defended, and the poor and needy are avenged; for such is the use of the words in Scripture when they are employed together; but as they are not perfectly connected in this passage, I consider judgment to denote uprightness; so that the same thing is twice expressed for the purpose of explaining it more fully.

But now murderers He shows in what manner Jerusalem became an harlot. It was, that the city, which had formerly been distinguished for the love of justice and equity, was now full of murders. The meaning is, as we have formerly said, not that they were assassins or robbers, but that, by fraudulent and dishonest methods, under the pretense of justice, they had gained the property of others. In short, he means that they did not act fairly and justly towards their fellow-men, whatever might be the estimation in which they were held; for sometimes, and indeed very frequently, it happens that very wicked men are held in high esteem.

The condition to which Jerusalem was reduced should lead us to consider how often Satan exercises what may be called unbounded tyranny over the Church of God; for if ever there was a Church, there was one at that time in Jerusalem; and yet Isaiah affirms that it was a den of robbers, or a slaughterhouse, where they cut men’s throats. But if Satan could freely riot in that Church, let us not wonder that the same thing takes place among us; but let us labor not to suffer ourselves to be corrupted by such wicked examples.

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