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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.

25. And I will turn my hand upon thee This is an alleviation of the former threatening; for though he still proceeds with what he had begun to state about his severity, he at the same time declares that, amidst those calamities which were to be inflicted, the Church would be preserved. But the principal design was to comfort believers, that they might not suppose the Church to be utterly ruined, though God treated them more roughly than before. The Spirit of God, by the Prophets, continually warns the children of God, who always tremble at his word, not to be overwhelmed and lose heart on account of terrors and threatening; for the more daringly that wicked men practice licentiousness and scoff at all threatening the more do those who are affected by a sincere fear of God tremble at them.

Besides, the turning of the hands of God denotes generally a token of his presence, as if he should say, I will display my hand. This he is wont to do in two ways, either by chastising the wicked, or by delivering believers from their distresses. Since, therefore, it is evident from the context that God purposes, by applying consolation, to mitigate the severity of punishment, the turning of the hands must here be viewed as referring to the restoration of the Church; for although he declared in general terms that all were his enemies, he now modifies or limits that statement by addressing Jerusalem or Zion by name.

When he adds, I will purge away thy dross, though he points out the fruit of correction, that believers may not be immoderately grieved or distressed on account of it, yet we learn from this expression that the purification of the Church is God’s own work. For this purpose he always lifts up his hand to punish transgressions, that he may bring back wanderers into the road; but rods would be of no avail, if he did not make them useful by touching their hearts inwardly. And, indeed, since he points out here a special favor which he bestows on his elect, it follows from this that repentance is a true and peculiar work of the Holy Spirit; for otherwise the sinner, instead of profiting in the smallest degree, would be more and more hardened by chastisements.

The pure purging, so that no dross remains, must not, however, be understood as if God ever cleansed his Church entirely in this world from every stain, but must be regarded as spoken after the manner of men; as if he said that the condition of his Church will be such that her holiness will shine like pure silver. These words, therefore, indicate real purity, for the Jews had formerly been too well satisfied with their filthiness. This is a highly appropriate comparison, by which the Prophet declares, that though the Church was at that time polluted by many defilements, still some remnant would be left, which, after the removal of the pollution, would regain its brightness. In this manner he also connects both clauses; for when he formerly spoke of their crimes, he said that their silver had become dross. (Isaiah 1:22.)


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