An Interpretation of the English Bible

 

THE PROPHETS OF THE

ASSYRIAN PERIOD

 

by B. H. CARROLL

Late President of Southwestern Baptist

Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas

 

Edited and compiled by

W.  Crowder

 

BAKER BOOK HOUSE

Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

New and complete edition

Copyright 1948, Broadman Press

Reprinted by Baker Book House

with permission of

Broadman Press

 

ISBN: 0-8010-2344-f)

 

First Printing, September 1973

Second Printing, September 1976

 

PHOTOLITHOPRINTED BY GUSHING - MALLOY, INC.

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

 

1976

 

CONTENTS

 

(Return to Main Contents)

 

I                  Introduction – The Prophets in General

II                 The Book of Obadiah

III                The Book of Joel

IV               The Book of Jonah

V                 The Book of Amos – Part 1

VI               The Book of Amos – Part 2

VII              The Book of Hosea – Part 1

VIII             The Book of Hosea – Part 2

IX               The Book of Isaiah –  Part 1

X                 The Book of Isaiah – Part 2

XI               The Book of Isaiah – Part 3

XII              The Book of Isaiah – Part 4

XIII             The Book of Isaiah – Part 5

XIV             The Book of Isaiah – Part 6

XV              The Book of Isaiah – Part 7

XVI             The Book of Isaiah – Part 8

XVII           The Book of Isaiah – Part 9

XVIII          The Book of Isaiah – Part 10

XIX             The Book of Isaiah – Part 11

XX              The Book of Isaiah – Part 12

XXI             The Book of Isaiah – Part 13

XXII           The Book of Isaiah – Part 14

XXIII          The Book of Isaiah – Part 15

XXIV          The Book of Isaiah – Part 16

XXV           The Book of Isaiah – Part 17

XXVI          The Book of Isaiah – Part 18

XXVII         The Gospel of Christ in Isaiah

XXVIII       The Book of Micah  – Part 1

XXIX          The Book of Micah – Part 2

XXX           The Book of Nahum

 

 

 

I

 

(Return to Contents)

 

INTRODUCTION – THE PROPHETS IN GENERAL

 


We now take up a new section of the Old Testament which, according to Hebrew classification of the books, is called the Later Prophets.


The literature on this section is abundant but largely radical in its nature. Therefore it is most difficult to find books on this section which we can commend to an English Bible student. Generally speaking, the old commentaries are safe but the student may read most of the modern books on the prophets with discrimination.


For the background there are two books which should be studied carefully. First, Wood's Hebrew Monarchy, which is the best of its kind, since it not only gives a fine harmony of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, but also inserts the pertinent passages from the Psalms and the prophets in their chronological order. Second, Crockett's Harmony of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, which is much more convenient than Wood's Hebrew Monarchy, because of its size. This we use as a textbook in our studies of the Hebrew monarchy and the divided kingdom. In most instances the author accepts the chronology of this work by Crockett.


As to the commentaries, there are many among the older ones which are excellent, but only a few may be mentioned here.


First, the expository part of "The Pulpit Commentary" is generally sound and good. Second, the "Bible Commentary" is excellent, especially its introductions. It is conservative and practical for the average student of the English Bible, though its notes on archaeology are not up to date. Third, Hengstenberg is one of the author's favorites. He is scholarly and conservative. Fourth, Pusey on the minor prophets is the best. He is also scholarly and conservative. Fifth, Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown's commentary is a good, brief, critical commentary.


Among the later writers on the prophets might be mentioned as valuable, Orelli's Old Testament Prophecy, Elliott's Old Testament Prophecy, Delitzsch's Messianic Prophecies in Historical Succession and Beecher's The Prophets and the Promise. Others will be named in connection with some of the books in this INTERPRETATION.


This period extends from Samuel to Malachi, a period of over seven hundred years. The special mission of the prophetic order was to serve as a counterpoise to the despotism of the monarch and to the formalism in the priest. A study of the history of this period reveals a strong tendency toward Oriental despotism on the part of the monarch and a very great degeneracy on the part of the priesthood. The immediate work of the prophet was to check the tendency to despotism on the part of the monarch by being God's mouthpiece to the king, and to counteract the degeneracy of the priesthood by becoming the speakers for God, and to be the religious instructors of the people.


The word "prophet" is derived from a Greek word which is a translation of the Hebrew and means "bubbling over." The Creek word is prophetes, which is derived from the Greek pro and phanai, meaning "to speak for," i.e., to speak for another. So, etymologically the word, in its parts, expresses the following ideas: Pro means (1) "beforehand," (2) "in public," (3) "in behalf of," or "for"; phanai means "to speak." Hence the etymological meaning, "to speak for" or to speak for another. Therefore a prophet is "one who speaks to men, on behalf of God, the message he has received from God, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit." The message may relate to the past, present, or future, according to the principles of inspiration. If it relates to the future it is called predictive prophecy.


The words used for "prophet" are as follows:


(1) The Hebrew word nabhi the most common word in Hebrew for prophet, means a "speaker." The word of God came to the prophet and he spoke it to men. See Jeremiah 1:2,11; Ezekiel 1:3 et multa al.


(2) A common word for "prophet" in the days of Samuel was ro'eh, which means a "seer," and is used to express the vision, insight, and foresight of the prophet. See 1 Samuel 9:9.


(3) The Hebrew word chozeh was used for an authoritative messenger, who received supernatural visions and so, was called a "seer." See Amos 1:1; Isaiah 1:1; Obadiah 1:1; Nehemiah 1:1.


(4) Several other terms were used to designate the prophet, such as "man of God," "servant of Jehovah," "messenger of Jehovah," et al.


The psychological process in the inspiration of the prophet is stated very clearly by Dr. Sampey, of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, as follows:


The canonical prophets claimed to be under the influence of the Spirit of God. Their message was from Jehovah. We cannot understand fully the psychology of the prophets when inspired. Their mental processes were stimulated and guided by the Spirit, who clothed them with power. Imagination, memory, and reason were no doubt heightened, as well as intuition and spiritual insight. The Spirit of God chose proper men for his purpose, and then turned to account all their powers. The mind of the prophet perhaps varied from the extreme of trance and ecstasy all the way to a quiet thoughtfulness over which the Holy Spirit preaided. Saul, wallowing on the ground under uncontrollable excitement, and Balaam, stalking forth with closed eyes to seek enchantments, are not fair specimens of prophets. The prophets had little in common with dancing and howling dervishes.


Many prophecies, or predictions, receive successive fulfilments, though there is a fulfilment higher and greater than all the rest. This we call the "perspective" of prophecy. In general, Orelli's statement holds good: "A prophecy can only be regarded as fulfilled when the whole body of truth included in it has attained living realization."

 

1. The prophets before Moses and the biblical proof for each:


(1) Enoch (Jude 14f.)


(2) Noah(2Peter2:5)


(3) Abraham and other patriarchs (Gen. 20:7; 27:27-29; 49)

 

2. The prophets in the age of Moses:


(1) Moses (Deut. 18:18-22; 34:10-12)


(2) Miriam and Aaron (Ex. 15:20; Num. 12)


(3) The seventy (Num. 11:24-29)


(4) Balaam (Num. 22-24)


(5) Joshua (Josh. 1; 23; 24)

 

3. The prophets in the period of the judges:


(1) Deborah (Judg. 4-5)


(2) An unknown prophet in the days of Gideon (Judg.6:8)


(3) An unknown prophet in the days of Eli (I Sam. 2:27-36).

 

4. The prophets from Samuel to the division of the kingdom:


(1) Samuel (I Sam. 3:20, et al)


(2) Companies of prophets (I Sam. 10:10-12; 19:20-24)


(3) Gad (I Sam. 22:5 et al)


(4) Nathan (2 Sam. 7-12)


(5) David (Psalms 110; 2; 22; Acts 2:30)

 

5. The prophets from the division of the kingdom to the time of Elijah:


(1) Ahijah of Shiloh (1 Kings


(2) Man of God from Judah at Jeroboam's altar (1 Kings 13:1)


(3) Shemaiah (1 Kings 12:21-24)


(4) Iddo the Seer (2 Chron. 12:15)


(5) Azariah (2 Chron. 15:1)


(6) Hanani {1 Chron 16:7-10)


(7) Jehu (2 Chron. 19:1-3) 6. The prophets in the period of Elijah and Elisha:


(1) Elijah (1 Kings 17:1 to 2 Kings 2-17)


(2) Micaiah (1 Kings 22:8)


(3) Unknown prophet (1 Kings 20)


(4) Jahaziel (2 Chron. 20:14-17)


(5) Eliezer (2 Chron. 20:37)


(6) Elisha (2 Kings 2-8)


There are three great periods of the canonical prophets, via: The Assyrian Period, the Chaldean Period, and the Persian Period. The canonical prophets are:

 

1. The Assyrian Period:


(1) Obadiah


(2) Joel


(3) Jonah


(4) Amos


(5) Hosea


(6) Isaiah


(7) Micah


(8) Nahum

 

2. The Chaldean Period:


(1) Zephaniah


(2) Habakkuk


(3) Jeremiah


(4) Ezekiel


(5) Daniel

 

3. The Persian Period:


(1) Haggai


(2) Zechariah


(3) Malachi


In the Assyrian period there appeared the schools of the prophets, Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, the man of God in 2 Chronicles 25:2-10, the nameless prophet of 2 Chronicles 25:15-16, another Zechariah in 2 Chronicles 26:5; then follows Oded and Huldah, the prophetess. In the Chaldean and Persian Periods the canonical prophets alone appear and fill the foreground of the picture while the false prophets fill the background.


There are three distinct elements for which a student of the prophets should look. The first element is the message to the prophet's own age. In order to understand this message as it was for the people of their own age, the student must get the background thereof, or the conditions in which they lived. The second element is that of prediction, or things foretold. In considering these we will find that many of them were immediately fulfilled, that others were fulfilled later and that many still await fulfilment. The third element to be looked for is the living message to our own age. They spoke the will of God and uttered age-abiding principles which have application now as surely as when they were first spoken. For these the student of the prophets should carefully look.


Certain things should be remembered in a study of the prophets:


1. The standpoint of the prophet was always that of the sovereignty of God. There are many tones in the prophecies. There is much thunder, yet very much of tenderness, but always in obedience to the vision of an enthroned God they uttered their messages.


2. Their protest against things which were contrary to the will of God was without compromise. They knew nothing of the word "expedient," but they knew a great deal of the word "obedient." They had but one thing to say to men, namely, that if, individually or incorporate, or national life, they were not living in submission to the will of God they were in the place of certain and irrevocable ruin.


3. Their intention was always that of bringing glory to the name of Jehovah. Their aim was to restore the people of God to the true relation to him in order that his name might be glorified.


4. With varying notes and emotions, every song raised by these prophets was a song of hope, a song which came out of their profound conviction that God could not be defeated, but that his purpose of love must come to ultimate accomplishment.


In the interpretation of prophecy it must be remembered:


1. The very nature of the prophet's function made it necessary that his utterances should contain "dark sayings" and enigmas. He was a special messenger of the invisible king to uphold the constitution of his kingdom on earth. His message had regard to the principles, and administrative measures, of divine government, and it inevitably followed that it would often have to be couched in analogical language: in figures, symbols, parables, and allegories. This mode of teaching left the insincere, unbelieving, and formalist to confine themselves within the narrow limits of literalism, but it rewarded the patient and docile seeker of God with warning, enlightenment, and comfort, as we find so often in the teachings of our Lord.


2. A right understanding of the Pentateuch is indispensable to the proper construing of these "dark sayings." The law supplies the basis of the prophetic word, and the great mass of legal teaching was conveyed in the form of typical history and emblematic ordinances.


3. As time went on, the history of the nation gave birth to fresh illustrations of the character of God, and provided additional material for prophetic allegory.


In considering predictive prophecy there should be especially recognized:


1. The failure of the Chosen People.


2. The coming Messiah.


3. The establishment of the kingdom of God by the Messiah himself.


4. The final restoration of the Jews.


5. The Messiah's kingdom must ultimately be established over the whole earth.


There is a special fitness in the arrangement of the prophetic books as we have them in the Hebrew Bible and in our English versions. The book of Isaiah ranges over the whole field of prophetic vision. Beginning with a reiteration of the terms of the Mosaic covenant and eliciting no signs of repentance it proceeds to record against the people a sentence of reprobation, then the instrument by which God's chastisement should be inflicted is declared. Then describing the overthrow of Samaria and Judah's extreme peril he assures Judah of a remnant of safety for all future time. He promises the coming one whose name should be "Immanuel," "Wonderful," etc., "a sure Foundation," "the Servant of the Lord," a new covenant and "a new heaven and a new earth." When we look at the breadth and grandeur of the vision of Isaiah we need no further reason for acquiescing in the existing order. All the rest of the prophets fall within this scope and present one harmonious plan of revelation.


To illustrate the one ruling purpose which pervades all the prophets, we take the book of Jonah. The history of Jonah's mission proves:


1. That, if Israel failed in her mission to diffuse the grace of God over the whole world, God was able, if he so willed, to work by them even as reluctant agents, for the publishing of his word among the Gentiles.


2. That the ready reception of that word by the people of Nineveh was a pre-intimation of what was thereafter to take place on a larger scale.


3. That the sparing of Nineveh was an encouragement to Israel that they too would be spared, if they only repented.


4. That if, on the other hand, they should not repent, "the men of Nineveh would rise up in the judgment and condemn them."


5. That this reformation of the Ninevites made them the more suitable for being employed as "the rod of God's anger," in the punishment of Israel.


6. That in all this there was nothing arbitrary; that the divine procedure was regulated throughout by the supreme rule of right, as illustrated in the cases of Sennacherib and Hezekiah, respectively, and in which is illustrated also the saying, "mercy rejoices against judgment."


Not a few have come forward in recent times purporting to be interpreters of the prophets, who do not so much as admit the possibility of such a thing as a genuine prophecy. The assumption rests on the contention that it is inconceivable that God should communicate to man any foreknowledge, or pre-vision, of future events. This doctrine is generally introduced as if it were an axiomatic truth, the answer to which is that it cannot be axiomatic since many who have been eminent for scientific ability, philosophic insight and practical intelligence have believed that such communication has actually taken place. Therefore it can have no claim to being an axiom. Neither is their assumption capable of proof, by either deduction or induction. For a deductive proof it would have to be shown) either that God has not the power to impart such knowledge, or that he did not purpose and will to do so. To assert the first is to limit the Almighty. To assert the second, a man must needs be himself omniscient. "Who hath known the mind of the Lord?" As to induction, it may be boldly affirmed that an inductive process, legitimately performed, on the facts supplied by the Bible, establishes incontestably that men have foretold future events which lay beyond human knowledge and which have found a most remarkable amount of verification in the history of Jesus Christ and the formation of Christendom.


These naturalistic interpreters have come to the conclusion that these prophecies are much later in date than is generally conceded. They do not agree among themselves but the general tendency among them is to place much of our canonical prophetic literature into post-exilic times. This is clearly the result of their reasoning from the mere assumption that it is incredible that God should reveal future events to man in our studies of the prophets we shall follow the chronological order as given in Sampey's Syllabus. Each book will receive special attention in the interpretation as to authorship, date, etc.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What section of our Bible do we commence in these studies?

 

2. What can you say, in general, of the literature on this section?

 

3. What helps commended and what the special feature commended, or what the reservation in each case?

 

4. What the time limits of the prophetic period and what the special mission of the prophets?

 

5. What is the definition of the word "prophet"?

 

6. By what words or terms were the prophets known? Give an illustration of each.

 

7. What can you say of the psychological process in the inspiration of the prophets?

 

8. What can you say of prophecy and fulfilment, in general, and what says Orelli as to fulfilment of prophecy?

 

9. Who the prophets before Moses and what the biblical proof?

 

10. Who the prophets in the age of Moses and what the proof?

 

11. Who the prophets in the period of the judges and what the proof?

 

12. Who were the prophets from Samuel to the division of the kingdom? Cite proof.

 

13. Who the prophets from the division of the kingdom to the time of Elijah and what the proof?

 

14. Who the prophets in the period of Elijah and Elisha and what the proof?

 

15. What three great periods of the canonical prophets and who the canonical prophets of each of these periods?

 

16. What other prophets contemporary with the canonical prophets?

 

17. What the three distinct elements for which a student of the prophets should look?

 

18. What certain things should be remembered in a study of the prophets?

 

19. What important considerations in the interpretation of prophecy?

 

20. In considering predictive prophecy what may especially be recognized?

 

21. What the special fitness in the arrangement of the prophetic books as we have them in the Hebrew Bible and in our English versions?

 

22. Illustrate the one ruling purpose which pervades all the prophets by the book of Jonah.

 

23. What the naturalistic speculation with reference to this view and what the reply to such contention?

 

24. To what conclusion have these naturalistic interpreters come with respect to the date of many of these prophecies?

 

25. What the order that we shall follow in our studies of the prophets?

 

 

II

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE BOOK OF OBADIAH

Obadiah 1-21

 


Following the chronology of Sampey's Syllabus we commence our studies of the prophets with Obadiah.


This name means servant or worshiper of Jehovah and is found to be of frequent occurrence in the Old Testament, but cannot be identified with any other. His father's name is not given. So, it is utterly impossible to know much about him. It has been determined with a good degree of certainty that he was a prophet of Judah.


The vision of Obadiah against Edom, or the punishment of Edom for its cruel and unbrotherly conduct toward Judah at the time of some great national calamity is the theme of his prophecy.


The date of this prophecy is a matter of great dispute. The time, according to the various scholars, ranges from 840 B.C. to 588 B.C. and some place it even later, but the author prefers the earlier date which places it shortly after the invasion of Judah and the plundering of Jerusalem by the Philistines and Arabians. This occurred in the reign of Jehoram (2 Chron. 21:16-17; compare 2 Kings 8:20ff.). The description of this event is brief, but doubtless many other captives were taken besides the royal family as herein indicated.


The attitude of Edom toward Israel was one of perpetual hostility. The history of this hatred for Israel commences with the trouble between Jacob and Esau, after which Esau settled the country about Mount Seir, afterward called Edom. Here Esau dispossessed the Horites, the original inhabitants. At the time of the Exodus the Edomites refused to permit the Israelites to pass through their territory and then continued in this state of hostility after the occupation of Canaan. This attitude toward Israel is seen in the succession of events in their history. They never lost an opportunity to show their dislike for the descendants of Jacob. It is this hatred which found expression in the time of Obadiah in their rejoicing at Israel's calamities for which Obadiah pronounces the curse upon them.


The style of Obadiah is remarkably original. He uses many words and forms found nowhere else. The language is full of thought and pregnant with meaning. It has a vigor, terseness, and rapidity which carry the reader along and place him by the prophet's side in fullest sympathy. One special characteristic of this prophecy is that of the close connection of its members without a break or interruption.


There are several other passages of Scripture which should be studied in connection with Obadiah:


1. Joel 2:23 to 3:19, in many particulars, seems to parallel Obadiah and, in all probability, Joel was acquainted with the prophecy of Obadiah and refers to it in 2:32. A close study of the two prophecies reveals a striking parallel in them. Whether Joel borrowed from Obadiah, is a disputed question. However, the evidence seems to indicate that he did. If this be true, then the date of Obadiah is practically settled as being that of 840 B.C. rather than later.


2. Jeremiah 49:7-22 is, doubtless, an expansion of Obadiah 1-9. A careful inspection of the two prophecies leads to the conclusion that Obadiah is the original from which Jeremiah borrowed.


3. Ezekiel 35:1-15, Lamentations 4:21, Psalm 137:7, all seem to parallel the feeling of Obadiah expressed in Obadiah 10-18, yet they doubtless refer to a different occasion though they have a similar cause, viz: the perpetual attitude of hostility of Edom toward Israel.


A brief outline, or analysis, of Obadiah is as follows: Introduction:


1. The title (la)


2. The theme (lb) I. A judgment announced (lc-9)


1. The summons of the nations (lc-2)


2. Edom, though proud and secure, shall be humbled (3-4)


3. The destruction shall be complete (5-9) II. A reason assigned (10-16)


1. The charge specified (10-11)


2. A prohibition of the repetition of such offenses (12-14)


3. The day of restitution at hand (15-16) III. A victory assured (17-21)


1. The forces in general (17-18)


2. The work of each in particular (19-20)


3. The kingdom established (21)


There is a summons in verses 1-2 to the nations to arise against Edom and bring her to desolation. The reference is not very clear but the passage refers to someone, as seen by the prophet in the vision, going among the heathen to stir them up against Edom.


In verses 3-4 we have a description of their pride. They were irreligious, proud, and self-centered. The position of the Edomites was secluded, they being dwellers of the mountains and living in houses hewn in rocks on the mountainsides. Their dwelling places were like the nests of eagles in the clefts of the highest rocks and almost inaccessible to an enemy. Petra, the capital, lay completely hidden in a rocky defile some two miles long, and could easily be defended by a handful of men. This remarkable place has been most graphically described by a late traveler. This description may be found in the "Pulpit Commentary" and the student will do well to read it. Note the comparison in verse 4.


The completeness of the desolation here foretold is described by contrasting it with the work of thieves, robbers, and grape-gatherers in which the prophet shows that, unlike the thief or the grape-gatherer, the destroyer will not leave anything of them but will bring them to complete desolation.


The prophet assigns as the reason for their desolation the fact that Edom had sided with the enemy against Israel and had rejoiced at the calamity of God's people in their defeat; he issues a prohibition against the repetition of such acts, and then he shows that the measure of their penalty should be their own treatment of Israel in view of the approaching day of restitution for the nations.


In this dark picture of the destruction of Edom and the other nations the prophet holds out the hope of Israel's final victory over all the nations. According to this prophecy a remnant shall escape and shall become a fire and the house of Joseph a flame while Esau shall be as stubble. As fire burns stubble, so shall Jacob and Joseph consume Esau. Then follows a description of the details of the work of desolation out of which shall come the establishment of the kingdom of Jehovah over the whole earth.


The question naturally arises just here as to the fulfilment of these several prophecies. There are three of these that now claim our attention. (1) The conquest of the Edomites by the heathen on account of their cruelty to the Jews at the time of the capture of Jerusalem by the Philistines and Arabians. (2) A second conquest of them and utter extermination by the Jews. (3) The subsequent expansion of the Israelitish nation and the triumphant glories of Zion.


The first of these was to be effected by the heathen which is not very easily found in history on account of the loss of Edom's historical records from 588 to 312 B.C. At the latter date we find the Nabataeans, a people of the Chaldean race and origin, in full possession of Edom. It was this people who made Petra famous for its buildings and commerce, but just when they got possession is not known. Josephus tells us of an invasion of this country by Nebuchadnezzar about five years after the destruction of Jerusalem. Probably he conquered this country and transported the Chaldeans and settled them there, upon which the Edomites established themselves in southern Judah where they were afterward exclusively found. This history fulfils the first prophecy.


The fulfilment of the second prophecy, viz: the conquest of Edom by the Jews, may be recognized more distinctly. Judas Maccabeus overthrew the Edomites at Arabattine and John Hyracanus captured the cities Adna and Marisa and subjugated all the Idumeans. He allowed them to remain where they were on the condition that they would be circumcised and adopt the Jewish customs. This they did and thus lost their nationality, but they still hung together as a party who were plundered by Simon of Gerasa. The few Edomites left were slain at the capture of Jerusalem and there was "not any remaining of the house of Esau; for Jehovah had spoken it." Now what of the expansion of the Israelitish kingdom? The promise that an escaped remnant should occupy Mount Zion was literally fulfilled at the return under Zerubabbel but the idea of the expansion was not. It had a typical and partial fulfilment in the days of the Maccabees but this expansion idea finds its fuller completion in Christianity and will be consummated in the millennium.


There are several important lessons in this book for us:


1. There is the lesson of the family feud, which is usually the most bitter and the most difficult to settle. Let us remember the lesson of Jacob and Esau.


2. There is the lesson of the dangers of pride and arrogance. Truly, "pride goeth before a fall."


3. There is the lesson of false confidence. No one is secure against the law of retribution. The clefts of Petra may be too difficult for man to scale but nothing can withstand God.


4. There is the lesson of God's method of dealing out his wrath. "Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small." Edom received what she had given.


5. There is the lesson of hope in a dark hour. God's plan and purpose are not accomplished in a day but he will see to it that no prophecy shall fail. Let Israel of today learn the lesson of patient, persistent pursuit of God's plan for her, and his glory will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. Who was Obadiah?

 

2. What the theme of his prophecy?

 

3. What the date and circumstances of this prophecy?

 

4. What was the attitude of Edom toward Israel and what the history which evidences this attitude?

 

5. What of the general character of the book?

 

6. What other passages of Scripture should be studied in this connection. and what their relation to Obadiah?

 

7. Give a brief analysis of the book.

 

8. What the summons of verses 1-2 and what the reference here?

 

9. What the characteristics of the Edomites and what of the place of their security?

 

10. How is the completeness of the desolation, which is here foretold, described?

 

11. What reason did the prophet here assign for such desolation, what prohibition issued and what the measure of their penalty?

 

12. What hope for Israel's victory does the prophet here hold out to the people and how is it to be realized?

 

13. What can you say of the fulfilment of these several prophecies by Obadiah?

 

14. What the lessons of the prophecy of Obadiah?

 

 

III

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE BOOK OF JOEL

Joel 1:1 to 3:21

 


Helps commended: (1) Hengstenberg, (2) Pusey.


Many men of different periods of the history of Israel bore the name Joel. All that we know of Joel, the prophet, is gleaned from the book of his prophecies and that is little indeed. He was the son of Pethuel, a man otherwise unknown to us. From a study of the prophecies of Joel we learn that he was almost certainly an inhabitant of Judah and Jerusalem. He was well acquainted with the services of Jehovah's Temple. His name means "Jehovah is God" and thus indicates something of the religious convictions of his parents. There is a legend that he was born at Beth-horon, ten miles northwest from Jerusalem, and that he was buried there. We know not the grounds on which this tradition rests and therefore cannot determine these things with any degree of certainty.


Nowhere in the Scriptures are we told just the time when Joel lived and prophesied. The date of his prophecy becomes, therefore, purely a question of literary and historical criticism. Like Obadiah, we find an earlier and a later date assigned to it. The earlier date is 830 B.C., or the reign of Joash; the later date assigned is after the exile. The author prefers the earlier date as being far more consistent with the internal evidence.


The occasion of this prophecy is determined according to the position taken with reference to the interpretation of the "locusts." Those who believe that the locusts referred to by Joel were real, not symbolical locusts, find the occasion of the book to be the entire desolation of the land of Judah by a plague of locusts, while those who hold to the symbolic meaning of the word "locusts" make the occasion of the book the great sins of Judah in turning away from Jehovah. As the author holds to the symbolical theory of the locusts he sees the occasion of this prophecy to be the decline of Judah which is so evident in the latter part of the reign of Joash (see history of his reign) and which calls forth this great summons of the people by the prophet to repentance or to the judgments that would follow.


The canonicity of this book has never been called in question. It is classical and almost matchless in style. Joel is the prince of prophets as to description. His description of the army of locusts, the battle of Jehoshaphat, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the suffering of brute creation is unequaled in literature. It is impossible to read his prophecies and not be impressed with his culture and literary skill. The Hebrew scholars tell us that his book is a fine specimen of pure classic Hebrew. With the strength of Micah it combines the tenderness of Jeremiah, the vividness of Nahum) and the sublimity of Isaiah.


This prophecy was given to Judah. There is no mention of the Northern Kingdom. The name "Israel" (2:27; 3:2, 16) refers to the whole people, while the author mentions Zion, Judah, and Jerusalem many times.


The analysis of this book consists of the title and three main divisions, as follows:

 

The title (1:1)

 

I. The coming of the locusts (1:2 to 2:27)


1. An unusual desolation (1:2-4)


2. A call to mourning (1:5-14)


3. Forebodings of the "day of Jehovah" (1:15-20)


4. The alarm sounded in view of the approaching day (2:1-3)


5. A description of the army and their destructive work (2:4-11)


6. A promise of forgiveness and blessings upon the condition of repentance (2:12-17)


7. Repentance vouchsafed and the blessings assured (2:18-27)

 

II. The coming of the Holy Spirit (2:28-32)


1. The spirit poured upon all flesh and the results (2:28-29)


2. The perspective of the final judgment day (2:30-31)


3. A hope for God's remnant (2:32)

 

III. The coming of judgments (3:1-21)


1. A summons to the battle of judgment and the reason (3:18-21)


2. The result of the judgment here and the hope of Israel (3:14-17)


3. Judah's final victory over all and her final cleansing (3:1-21)


In the title to this book we have one of the three common formulas of introduction to the prophets:


1. "The word of Jehovah that came to Joel." This formula is found in Jeremiah 1:2; Ezekiel 1:3; Hosea 1:1; and Zechariah 1:1.


2. "The vision of [author's name]," is found in Isaiah 1:1; and Obadiah 1:1.


3. "The burden of [author's name]," is found in Nahum1:1; and Malachi 1:1.


Lamentations and Daniel have no formal introduction, the former being an elegy in poetic form and the latter being regarded by the Jews as history rather than prophecy. These formulas are significant of the authority by which the prophet spoke and the point of view from which the prophecy is considered, whether "the word of Jehovah," "the vision of [the prophet]" or "the burden [or oracle of Jehovah.]"


In the interpretation of the coming of the locusts it must be kept in mind that Joel is an apocalypse and therefore these locusts must be considered apocalyptical. What the author sees is a swarm of locusts and he describes them as such. So the coming of these locusts is not to be understood literally, but allegorically and, therefore, symbolically. The four invasions here are invasions by locusts under four different names, and represent the curses of the four national powers, viz: Syro-Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greco-Macedonian, and Roman. This corresponds to the apocalypse of Daniel in which is set forth the relation of Israel to these same powers. Joel I sets forth the chastisements sent upon the Jews and the reasons therefore. The book is a book of judgments showing the divine order, viz: "Judgment begins at the house of God." These judgments are in a series of four, one after another, as indicated by the locusts. They begin with the Babylonian captivity and culminate in the destruction of Jerusalem and the taking away of the Jewish nation by the Romans.


The arguments showing that the literal view of the plague of locusts is inconsistent are as follows:


1. They are described as "the northern" scourge and locusts never came to Palestine that way.


2. The priests are directed to pray, "Give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them" (2:17).


3. The scourge is to be destroyed "because he hath done great things," or literally, "hath magnified to do" (2:20), an expression unsuitable to irrational creatures.


4. The figurative expressions used in connection with the locusts, viz: The fire and the flame and beasts being desired to rejoice in the tree. These expressions are unquestionably figurative; therefore, the whole may be so regarded.


5. The imagery goes beyond the plague of locusts, in that (1) the people are terrified, (2) the air is darkened and (3) they enter the city (2:6, 9-10).


6. The effects are greater than would be produced by mere locusts, in that (1) the meal offering is destroyed, (2) the fruits of more than one year are destroyed and (3) the plague is described as worse than any that was remembered (1:2, 9; 2:2).


7. Locusts could not have been driven at once into the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean.


8. The day of the Lord is identified with the scourge, and is far beyond the plague of locusts (2:1, 11).


9. The locust is used elsewhere in the Bible symbolically, to represent a curse (Rev. 9:3-11).


According to this position the prophet announces a complete desolation of the land, as if locusts had laid it waste. Upon the occasion of this approaching curse he calls for mourning and penitence. Then he gives the foreboding of the "day of Jehovah" and orders the sounding of an alarm and follows that with a masterful description of an invading army and its destructive work. In 2:12-17 the prophet holds out the hope of forgiveness and blessings if they will really repent; at verse 18 he introduces the prediction which stretches across the messianic age to the introduction of the millennium. In verse 23, we have the promise of "the teacher of righteousness" (marginal reading) as in 2 Kings 17:27; Job 36:22; Proverbs 5:13; Isaiah 9:15; 30:20; Habakkuk 2:18. So the order here seems to be (1) Christ comes, "the teacher of righteousness," (2) come Pentecost and the Holy Spirit, (3) comes the destruction of Jerusalem which is the climax of the "day of the Lord" on the Jewish people.


In 2:28-32 we have the first distinct prediction of the advent of the Holy Spirit, fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, following which is the far distant judgment day, adumbrated by the destruction of Jerusalem from which destruction escapes a remnant who are specially called of Jehovah (see Isa. 1:9; and Rom. 11:5).


In 3:1-21 we have a forecast of the judgments on the anti-Christian nations. First, there is a summons to the battle of judgments in which God pours out his wrath upon these nations because of their treatment of his people, Israel. This accords with Isaiah 66:5-6; Daniel 11:36-45; Zechariah 14:115; and Revelation 19:11-21, in which is described the great battle of Jehoshaphat at which the Jews are to be converted, a result of the interposition of God, as described here in 3:1417. This ushers in the millennium in which Judah (or the prince of Judah) will win the victory over the world in bringing in the Messiah's kingdom and disseminating the knowledge of him to the ends of the earth.


There appears in this book for the first time the expression, "The day of the Lord," which refers to the time of God's judgments and has partial fulfilment in the destruction of Jerusalem, then another in God's judgments on the ungodly nations above described, and then finds its final and complete fulfilment at the last great judgment.


There appears also, for the first time in this book, the idea of the fountain. This idea expands as we follow it through the Bible to its fulfilment. Here it is briefly stated, showing its source and its objective; the valley of Shittim with no interpretation given. In Ezekiel 47:1-12 we have the idea very much enlarged, showing this fountain developed into a great river which symbolizes the river of life presented in Revelation 22:1-2. Then in Zechariah 13:1 we have an additional idea presented, viz: that it is "for sin and uncleanness" from which we derive the beautiful hymn, "There is a fountain filled with blood." The fulfilment of this idea is found in Christ's teaching in John (4-7), where he refers to the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation and in life.


There are two other ideas that appear in this book for the first time which have already been explained, viz: The coming of the Holy Spirit and the battle of Jehoshaphat and the conversion of the Jews.


Some of the most important lessons of this book are as follows:


1. God's retribution for disobedience. This is plain from the calls to repentance and the threatened judgments in the book.


2. God's long forbearance toward a gainsaying and disobedient people, showing that his "mercy endureth forever."


3. God's blessings of the Holy Spirit. They are for all people in all ages. Though he selected and elected one nation as his own peculiar people, yet "whosoever calleth on the Lord shall be saved."


4. God's blessing of final victory for his cause and people. Evil may triumph and Jerusalem be trodden down for a time but the promises of God are sure and the Jew, though rejecting his Messiah and scattered to the ends of the earth, shall eventually accept this Messiah and become a mighty factor in the spread of his kingdom.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. Who was Joel?

 

2. What the date of this prophecy?

 

3. What the occasion of this prophecy?

 

4. What of the canonicity of this book?

 

5. What of the style and character of the book?

 

6. To whom was this prophecy given and how do you explain the use of the name "Israel" in 2:27; 3:2, 16?

 

7. What the essential points in the analysis of this book?

 

8. What formula of introduction found in the title to this book and what the three formulas found in the introductions to the prophets?

 

9. What the interpretation of the coming of the locusts?

 

10. What the arguments showing that the literal view of the plague of locusts is inconsistent?

 

11. According to this position, then how interpret 1:2 to 2:27?

 

12. What promise in 2:28-32 and where do we find the fulfilment?

 

13. What the judgments of 3:1-21 and when their fulfilment?

 

14. What ideas appear for the first time in Joel and what their application?

 

15. What the most important lessons of this book?

 

 

IV

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE BOOK OF JONAH

 


Jonah is both the author and the hero of the book by this name. He was the son of Amittai, a reference to whom is also found in 2 Kings 14:25: "He [Jeroboam II] restored the border of Israel from the entrance of Hamath unto the sea of the Arabah, according to the word of Jehovah, the God of Israel, which he spake by his servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was of Gath-hepher." There can be no doubt as to the identity of this Jonah and the one mentioned in Jonah I: I since this name occurs nowhere else as the "son of Amittai, the prophet." This passage not only accords with Jonah 1:1 in giving the father's name but it also gives us Jonah's place of residence and the times in which he prophesied. The place of his birth was Gath-hepher, a town in Zebulun (Josh. 19:13) about three, miles northeast of Nazareth which shows that he was a prophet of the Northern Kingdom. The time in which he lived is clearly shown to be the reign of Jeroboam II, the "Indian Summer" of Israel's history after the division of the kingdom (2 Kings 14:23-29).


There are several traditions relating to Jonah. (1) It is claimed by some that "Jonah"' means grieving and "Amittai" means true, from which arose the improbable opinion that Jonah was the son of the widow of Zarephath, whom Elijah raised to life, because of what she said when she received him from the dead (1 Kings 17:24). (2) It is also supposed by some that Jonah was the boy who attended Elijah into the wilderness. (3) There is another tradition that he was the young man sent to anoint Jehu. (4) And singularly enough, there is the tradition that he was the husband of the Shunammite woman who extended hospitality to Elisha. (5) Respecting his burial place, there is a tradition that he was buried pear Nineveh and another, that he was buried at Gath-hepher. his birthplace. It is needless to say that these traditions are without foundation in history but they indicate somewhat the impress of this striking character upon the literature of the world.


There is a reference to this prophecy of Jonah in Tobit 14::4-6, 15, an apocryphal book, in which Nineveh is said to have been overthrown according to this prophecy of Jonah. There are three references to Jonah the prophet in the Koran, viz: In chapter X, p. 157, there is a reference to the repentance of the Ninevites at the preaching of Jonah; in chapter XXXVII, p. 338, there is an account of Jonah's commission, disobedience, and experience in the sea; in chapter LXVIII, p. 421, there is a reference to his sea experience, God's mercy to him and his election unto righteousness. In Josephus' Jewish Antiquities IX, 10:1-2, we have an account of Jonah's prophecies, both to Jeroboam II and his call and prophecy to Nineveh. He adds several items of detail to the story of Jonah's extraordinary experience in the sea, giving his objective as Tarsus in Cilicia and the point of landing as the Euxine Sea. There is little weight of authority to these statements but they indicate a conviction as to the historicity of the book of Jonah.


There are three legends that illustrate the extraordinary features of the book of Jonah, viz: (1) Hesione and Hercules, (2) Andromeda and Perseus, and (3) Saint George and the Dragon. These legends, the scenes of which are located on the Mediterranean Sea, reflect, perhaps, the impression made upon the ancient mind by this story of Jonah.


There are several scriptural references to the book, viz: 2 Kings 14:25; Matthew 12:39-41; 16:4; Luke 11:29-30, the import of which is that the book is historical and that Jonah is typical of our Lord Jesus Christ.


The purpose of this book is threefold: (1) To teach the bigoted Israelites that salvation is for the Gentiles as well as for the Jews; (2) to give a genuine lesson on repentance, ½ as illustrated, (a) in Jonah, (b) in the Ninevites and (c) lad God himself; (3) to typify Christ. I


The occasion of this prophecy against Nineveh was the. moral corruption of the Ninevites, "For their wickedness isl come up before me" (1:1). To this, other prophets add their I testimony: "Woe to the bloody city I" (Nah. 3:1). "This is a joyous city that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, I am, and there is none else besides me" (Zeph. 2:15).


The annals of Assyria are nothing but a register of militarycampaigns, spoilations, and cruelties. Their monuments display men of calm and unmoved ferocity, whose moral and mental qualities are overborne by the faculties of the lower, brutal nature." – LATARD, Nineveh and Babylon, p. 631.


The style of this book is simple, pure Hebrew. The author believed that God prepared everything and the book bears the stamp of a simple, truthful narrative. It is not prophecy, in the strict sense of the word, but history, inserted among the prophets because written by a prophet. There is no moralizing I and no reflection. The tale is told graphically and has quite a dramatic interest, advancing in regular stages to the conclusion, and leaving an impression upon the mind as though its various scenes had been enacted before the eyes of the reader.


The miraculous element of the book is twofold: (1) the physical, (2) the moral. The physical miracles are the experience of Jonah in the sea and the incident of the gourd.


The moral miracle is the salvation of the Ninevites. There are three great doctrines illustrated in the incidents of the book. (1) There is the great doctrine of the resurrection set forth in this book symbolically. No one can doubt this who reads Matthew 12:39-41. (2) There is set forth here in the most dramatic action the great doctrine of genuine repentance. Man and beast together wear the symbols of penitence. (3) There is here illustrated God's great, forbearing mercy, and loving-kindness. See his forbearance toward wicked Nineveh and his great loving kindness as here displayed toward a lost world.


Nineveh, the great city here referred to, was founded by Nimrod, a descendant of Ham (Gen. 10:11; Micah 5:6), as a colony from Babylon which is proved by the monuments of Assyria. After this simple statement in Genesis the record is silent respecting Nineveh for a long time. The next mention of these people we find in the prophecy of Balaam (Num. 24:22, 24), that Assyria should carry Israel away captive and the ships from Greece should afflict Assyria. The next reference to Assyria is found in Psalm 83:8 which finds its historical reality in 2 Chronicles 20:1-4. This is an account of Assyria under Shalmaneser II joining with Moab and Ammon against Israel under Jehoshaphat at which time the Israelites were victorious. This is the real beginning of Assyria's strength and greatness. Her power is now beginning to be felt for the first time in her history. This brings us in the Bible account of Assyria up to the time of Jonah and Jeroboam II, where Nineveh again enters by name on the biblical record. This reappearing of the name Nineveh is incidental, and shows that the Bible does not profess to give an orderly and systematic history of the world. The record here in Jonah says that Nineveh was a "great city." It was located on the Tigris River and in the shape of a parallelogram, sixty miles around and three days' journey on a straight line through it. Its walls were sixty feet high, with 1,500 towers, 200 feet high. The walls were broad enough on top to receive three chariots driving side by side. It is almost certain that this city was larger than Babylon, especially if we include in the estimate its suburbs. Jonah calls it "an exceeding great city of three days' -journey" and with 120,000 infants, all of which indicate that Nineveh was no ordinary city.


Nineveh was destroyed by the combined forces of the Medes and Babylonians, the Median king being Cyaxares and the city was complete. Xenophon with 10,000 Greeks passed by it two centuries later and did not even mention it, unless he referred to it as one of the "uninhabited" cities of which he speaks. The remains of this city must have been in evidence in the days of the Roman emperors, since Tacitus refers to a Nineveh on the Tigris, and there is another reference to it as late as the thirteenth century.


The ruins now present a rampart and foss, four miles in circuit, with a moss-covered wall about twenty feet high. The archaeologists in recent years have done much to make Nineveh live before the minds of this generation. Their discoveries of the libraries have thrown a flood of light on the history of these people of the Far East; but the Bible account of Nineveh and the rest of the Oriental empires remains unmolested. The Ninevites worshiped the fish god and in excavating in this vicinity many stone images of a fish have been found with a man coming out of its mouth. There is evidently a connection between Jonah's experience and these stone images. This seems to be a confirmation of the story of Jonah as a sign to the Ninevites. Since they worshiped the fish god, the Lord accredited Jonah unto them by means of such a miracle as would leave no doubt in their minds as to the superior power of Jehovah over their object of worship.


There is an abundance of literature on this book but I will name only a few of the very best helps to its interpretation. The boat commentaries are Pusey's Minor Prophets and the "Pulpit Commentary." The "Expositor's Bible" is the worst that could be mentioned. Dr. A. J. Rowland's monograph on Jonah is very fine. The article on Jonah in Smith's Bible Dictionary is a pretty fair article. Sampey's Syllabus is fine. A sermon on Jonah by Melville, a Scotch preacher, is able and good. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, and Matthew Henry are also good.


The chapters constitute the divisions of the analysis of this book, as follows:

 

I. Jonah's mission, disobedience, and punishment (1:1-17)


1. His call, commission, and flight (1:1-3)


2. God's intervention and Jonah's revelation (1:4-10)

 

II. Jonah's prayer, thanksgiving, and deliverance (2:1-10)


1. His prayer (2:1-7)


2. His thanksgiving (2:8-9)


3. His deliverance (2:10)

 

III. Jonah's recall, obedience, and success (3:1-10)


1. His recall (3:1-2)


2. His obedience (3:3-4)


3. His success (3:5-10)

 

IV. Jonah's displeasure and correction (4:1-11)


1. His displeasure (4:1-5)


2. His correction (4:6-11)


The word "now" (v. 1), is the same word in the Hebrew that is translated "and" at the beginning of several of the historical books and forms a connecting link, thus showing a continuation of history, or, as in this case, connecting revelation with revelation.


We come across the expression, "the word of Jehovah," in our Bible first in Genesis 15:1 and there it means the Son of God, the Logos of John 1:1. There seems to be the same meaning here. The word of Jehovah came "saying."


We find three parallels in the Bible to Jonah 1:2, "their wickedness has come up before me," viz: (1) the case of Cain, (2) the case of the flood, and (3) the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, in each of which most solemn judgment followed. The striking difference in this case and those mentioned above is the repentance of the Ninevites which moved God to repentance and averted the awful judgment.


In his going from the presence of Jehovah, Jonah renounced his prophetic office; he went away from "standing before Jehovah"; gave up his credentials and "took to the woods" (waters), to Tarshish, a city in Spain, far away from the Jehovah country. Thus he thought to leave the land of Jehovah was to get away from the call of Jehovah. Alas! many a man has tried the policy of Jonah to his own sorrow. Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh, (1) because of his hatred for the idolatrous Gentiles, (2) because of his fear that God would show them mercy and his prediction would be discredited, (3) because of Nineveh's growing strength and if spared she would become Israel's rival and (4) because, perhaps, he feared ill treatment at the hands of the cruel and ferocious Assyrians.


In 1:4, "he paid the fare thereof," we have a picture of the preacher renouncing his call of God upon which he must pay his own way, a hard fare indeed when one has lost the divine favor. But he sends a messenger after him, viz: a storm, and sometimes the fires of affliction are kindled all about him and sore distress comes upon him. God must be obeyed. See Psalm 107:23-32. But what the significance of "cast forth the wares" (1:5)? This expression illustrates the fact that there is something to do besides to pray. Work is the handmaiden of prayer. Jonah's being asleep is an illustration of a man who is guilty of sin, more especially the backslider. Sin stupefies and therefore they need to be aroused. A fine text: “O sleeper, arise." Casting lots was one way of finding out the will of Jehovah. Compare Acts 1:26 et multa al. This was simply a method of casting the vote. Jonah, understanding fully that the trouble was all on account of him, asked that they dispose of him by casting him into the sea and let him take the chance for his life, but the sailors saw only death for Jonah in such procedure and were not willing to take the risk of having upon them innocent blood. As the last resort they yielded.


There are three distinct things affirmed in 2:16, which need special notice, viz: (1) that they feared Jehovah, (2) that they offered sacrifice unto Jehovah, and (3) that they made vows, the explanation of which is, that Jonah had convinced them that Jehovah had brought the storm and therefore he was the one who was to be appeased. As to the nature of their fear, sacrifice, and vows we are not told but we are not to suppose that it was the reverential fear that brings salvation. It is probable that they acknowledged Jehovah as one of their gods after this event but there is nothing here to show that they accepted Jehovah as the only God to the exclusion of their own gods.


The fish that swallowed Jonah may have been a whale of the kind found in the Mediterranean Sea which is able to swallow a man whole, or it may have been the white shark of the same waters, as it is sometimes found in this section twenty-five feet long and has been known to swallow a man whole, and even a horse. There have been found in this sea three kinds of sea-animals that could easily swallow a man, viz: the Great Spermaceti Whale, the White Shark, and the Rorqual, one specimen of which has been found in this sea seventy-five feet long. So the contention that no whale or fish that could swallow a man is found in these parts is utterly baseless.


Jonah's hymn is evidently made up of quotations from other passages of Scriptures which a comparison of the following passages will prove: Jonah 2:2 equals Psalm 120:1; Jonah 2:3 equals Psalm 42:7 and 18:4; Jonah 2:4 equals Psalm 31:22; Jonah 2:5 equals Psalm 18:40, 5; Jonah 2:7 equals Psalm 18:6 (last clause) and 142:3; Jonah 2:8 equals Psalm 31:6-7. These correspondences could not have been fortuitous: the one poet must have had sounding in his mind the language of the other. Jonah evidently was well acquainted with the Psalms. "Lying vanities" in 2:8 means idolatry and indicates a strong characteristic of heathen worship.


The second commission to Jonah is recorded in 3:1-2: "And the word of Jehovah came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee." The circumstances of this second commission are as follows: Jonah had had his extraordinary experience in the sea and had, doubtless, returned home, allowing sufficient time for the news of this great and singular event to reach Nineveh, thus preparing the way for Jonah's preaching by accrediting Jonah to them in a way that would impress them with the superiority of Jonah's God over their fish god. There are three distinct things here relative to God's relation to the ministry that need to be emphasized, viz: (1) God calls his ministers by a direct appeal to them: "and the word of Jehovah came unto Jonah, saying"; (2) God selects the field of labor for his ministers: "Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city"; (3) God gives the message: "and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee." This is a fine example of what the preacher ought to be, viz: God-called, God-appointed, and God-instructed. With these three essentials in his life and work the minister knows no failure.


The "yet" in 3:4 indicates an implied promise; that this was not an announcement of an absolute decree of God, but was a conditional decree. God repented when they repented. Note that there are three particular cases of repentance in this book: (1) the preacher repents; (2) the people repent; (3) God repents. Observe the order. When the preacher repents, the people generally repent, and when the preacher and the people repent, God always repents. The "yet" here indicates God's attitude toward a sinner. Though he thunders the law of Sinai over the sinner's head, it is only that the sinner may be prepared to hear the voice from Calvary. "Yet forty days and "Nineveh shall be overthrown," but the "forty days" furnish space for repentance.


"Believed God" in 3:5 is equivalent to "believed on God" and is saving faith, as with Abraham. Fasting and sackcloth are external evidences of repentance. In 3:7 we see the call to real fasting and repentance. In 3:8 the animals lowing for fodder were crying to God. The prayers of the people and the crying of the cattle make a powerful appeal to God. But praying and crying were not enough. "Let them turn every one from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands" and show by this his real earnestness, as in the New Testament exhortation: "Let him that stole steal no more but return what he has stolen." Restitution is a law of forgiveness. This passage is equalled in the New Testament by John the Baptist's preaching and Paul's preaching at Ephesus. This is both a moral and spiritual miracle. It is the biggest case of conversion in the Old Testament on a foreign field. Jonah was the first foreign mission preacher and had but one credential. Some say people cannot be moved religiously by fear but it is a mistake. People are influenced both by the fear of punishment and by the hope of reward. The motive in Luke 15 is "Joy in heaven." "Ye shall likewise perish except ye repent." Preach love always, but don't leave out hell.


Jonah was much displeased with and angry at the Lord's attitude, but the Lord dealt gently with him giving him the lesson of the gourd (4:6-11). It was not right for Jonah to be angry at what God did, nor is it ever right to be angry at what God does, especially in the salvation of the people. In this connection he gives the reason for his unwillingness to go to Nineveh at the outset, but he was wrong in his attitude toward the people of Nineveh. This attitude culminated in madness at Jehovah's attitude toward them and went to the extent of wishing for death. But it is a very cowardly thing to wish for death under such circumstances.


To this foolishness of Jonah the Lord answered that Jonah's regard for the gourd was but a small matter compared to his regard for the 120,000 infants and the much cattle of Nineveh. This is a beautiful lesson of God's attitude toward the irresponsible and gives us a splendid Old Testament view of God's attribute of mercy.


As Jonah, after his resurrection, became a missionary to the Gentiles, so Christ after his resurrection declared his "all authority" and commissioned his church to go to the ends of the world. The resurrection had a marvelous effect in enlarging the commission.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What the traditions relating to Jonah?

 

2. Who was Jonah and what the time of his writing?

 

3. What references to this book in literature and what the testimony in each case?

 

4. What three legends may be mentioned as illustrating the extraordinary features of the story of Jonah?

 

5. What the scriptural references to the book and what the import of their teaching?

 

6. What the purpose of this book?

 

7. What the occasion of this book and how is it proved from the history of Nineveh?

 

8. What of the style and character of the book?

 

9. What of the miraculous element of the book?

 

10. What doctrines illustrated by the incidents of the book?

 

11. Give an account of Nineveh.

 

12. What the form of idolatry in Nineveh at this time and what the evidence of Jonah's impress on the Ninevites?

 

13. What helps on this book commended?

 

14. What the analysis of this book?

 

15. What is the force of the word "now" of verse I?

 

16. Where do we first find the expression, "the word of Jehovah," in the Bible and what does it mean there?

 

17. What parallels to Jonah 1:2, "their wickedness is come up before me," do we find elsewhere in the Bible and what striking difference in this case?

 

18. What is the meaning of "Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of Jehovah"?

 

19. What Jonah's reasons for not wanting to go to Nineveh?

 

20. What the meaning and application of 1:4, "he paid the fare thereof"?

 

21. What the significance in 1:5 of "cast forth the wares"?

 

22. What the suggestion from Jonah's being asleep?

 

23. What of casting lots in 1:7?

 

24. What the remedy for the case as proposed by Jonah and how did it meet the approval of the sailors?

 

25. How do you explain, their fearing Jehovah and sacrificing unto him?

 

26. What of the fish that swallowed Jonah?

 

27. What the relation of Jonah's hymn to other passages of Scripture?

 

28. What the meaning of "lying vanities" in Jonah 2:8?

 

29. What Jonah's second commission, what its circumstances and what three things in this commission, illustrative of God's relation to the minister and his work?

 

30. What is the force of "yet" in 3:4?

 

31. What the points of 3:5-10?

 

32. How did Jonah receive the fact of the conversion of the Ninevites and God's mercy to them and how did God deal with him?

 

33. Was it right for Jonah to be angry, what the extent of his madness and what do you think of his wish?

 

34. What was Jehovah's answer to all this foolishness of Jonah?

 

35. How is the relation of the resurrection and the commission of Christ illustrated in this book?

 

 

V

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE BOOK OF AMOS PART I

Amos 1:1 to 2:16

 


Amos, the author of the book by his name, was a .native of Tekoa, a herdsman and a dresser of sycomore trees. He was not educated for a prophet but was called by the Lord from his rural employment to bear his message to the Northern Kingdom (Amos 1:1; 7:14).


Tekoa, the home of Amos, was a city about twelve miles south of Jerusalem, six miles south of Bethlehem, built for defense by Rehoboam (2 Chron. 11:5-6). It was situated on an eminence, beyond which (south) there was no village, not even crude cottages or huts. Such is the vast wilderness which stretches to the Red Sea and the borders of the Persians, Ethiopians, and Indians. The country is a dry, sandy soil and full of shepherds that make amends for the barrenness of the land by the multitude of their flocks. Its elevation gave it a wide prospect. On the west is seen the sweep of the range from Mizpah to Hebron; on the east, the wilderness of Judah; on the north, Bethlehem; to the right, in the bottom of a wild ravine, is the cave of Adullam. Farther down, on the shores of the Dead Sea, are "the cliffs of the wild goats," from whose side springs the fountain of Engedi. Beyond the Dead Sea is the wall-like ridge of Moab, and to the south, the ruddy-tinted mountains of Edom. Now a mournful and solitary silence broods over that wonderful panorama. Tekoa now lies in ruins covering four or five acres, without building sufficient to shade a man from the scorching sun. Such was the surroundings of the boy, Amos, who used the geographical peculiarities of his native land with telling effect in his prophecies.


The date of his prophecy is given in Amos I: I: "In the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake." This was early in the eighth century B.C., or about 760 B.C., but the date cannot be fixed with exactness. The earthquake referred to is mentioned in only one other place (Zech. 14:5), and from this the exact date cannot be ascertained.


The occasion of these prophecies is found in the history of the times in which he wrote. It was when Israel and Judah both enjoyed great prosperity and there was much indulgence in the luxuries of wealth by the upper classes while the poor were suffering from their extreme poverty. The moral condition of the people was terrible. Crime was perverted, and almost every form of iniquity abounded in the land. The nations round about were also corrupt and Judah had turned away from the law of Jehovah. There was enough in the vision of Amos from his lofty position at Tekoa to stir his righteous soul into an outburst of denunciation. Such was the occasion of his prophecy.


The canonicity of the book of Amos is abundantly supported by both Jewish and Christian writers.


The force, beauty, and freshness of the images freely employed by Amos are very evident. Oratorical in style, graphic in description, powerful in thought, observation, and expression he exhibits a wonderful natural ability. The very simplicity of his language makes it impressive. In simple, unadorned eloquence, in structural regularity, in natural vigor, and in loftiness of thought, Amos reaches a well-grounded eminence, and the author of such writings was in no wise behind the very chiefest of the prophets. His prophecy is after the model of a well-ordered discourse.


The second verse gives his text: "Jehovah will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the pastures of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither." It is taken from Joel 3:16 and indicates the denunciatory nature of his message.


The outline is simple in its general features. There are three main divisions and a conclusion.

 

Introduction


1. Title, author, and date (1:1)


2. The text and subject (1:2)

 

I. Denunciations of the nations (1:3 to 2:16)


1. Syria (1:3-5)


2. Philistia (1:6-8)


3. Phoenicia (1:9-10)


4. Edom (1:11-12)


5. Ammon (1:13-15)


6. Moab (2:1-3)


7. Judah (2:4-5)


8. Israel (2:6-16)

 

II. Proclamations to Israel (3-6)


1. Jehovah's verdict and sentence (3)


2. Jehovah's indictment and summons (4)


3. Jehovah's judgment and woe (5-6)

 

III. Revelations for all (7:1 to 9:10)


1. The locusts – judgment threatened and restrained (7:1-3)


2. The fire – judgment threatened and restrained (7:4-6)


3. The plumb line – judgment determined (7:7-9)


4. Historical interlude – conflict with Amaziah (7:10-17)


5. The basket of fruit – judgment imminent (8:1-14)


6. Jehovah himself – judgment executed (9:1-10) Conclusion – restoration (9:11-15)


The subject of the prophecy of Amos is judgment, or national accountability. This is indicated by his text: "Jehovah will roar from Zion," which means that God would soon spread terror, like wild beasts when they roar, or that he would soon display his power in executing judgment. The next clause of the text is a parallel thought in which the figure is extended. At the sound of God's voice all nature withers.


"For three transgressions . . . yea, for four," introducing the denunciations of the nations, is a favorite phrase of the prophet used, not to express a definite number of transgressions, but means many, or multiplied transgressions, a definite number being put for an indefinite number. (See Job 5:19 for a parallel case.)


Fire is used in these several denunciations to symbolize all the severities of war (see Numbers 21:28), and as an emblem of God's wrath (see Deuteronomy 32:22). However, in some instances here it has a literal fulfilment in the devouring flame itself.


The charge here brought against Syria is that they threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron, the account of which we find in 2 Kings 10:32-33; 13:3-7. The judgment here denounced with the destruction of their city and the captivity of the people, which was fulfilled when Tiglath-pileser took Damascus, carried the people captive to Kir, and slew Rezen, the king (2 Kings 16:9).


The charge preferred against Philistia was that she had carried captive the whole people, meaning that neither age nor sex was spared (2 Chron. 21:16; 28:18), and delivered them over to Edom. The judgment denounced was the complete destruction of the Philistines, which was fulfilled at different times and by different parties. Gaza was taken by Sennacherib, by Pharaoh-Necho, and by Alexander the Great. Ashdod was taken by Uzziah, by Sargon's chief, Tartan, and by Psammetichus, king of Egypt, and finally destroyed by the Maccabees (1 Mace. 5:68; 10:77-84; 11:4). Ashkelon was taken by Sennacherib who also took Ekron. There seems to have been a more distinct fulfilment of the prophecies relating to these cities by Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:8; Isa. 14:29). The remnant of the Philistines perished at the hands of the Assyrians (Isa. 20).


The charge against Phoenicia (Tyre) was that they had delivered up all their captives to Edom and had disregarded the brotherly covenant made by Hiram with David and Solomon. The judgment denounced was Tyre's destruction, which was fulfilled in the thirteen years' siege by Nebuchadnezzar and its final and complete destruction by Alexander the Great.


The charge preferred against Edom was that of his perpetual hatred against his brother, Jacob, and consequent pursuit of Israel without pity. The judgment denounced was a fire upon Teman and Bozrah, the two principal cities of Edom. This was fulfilled by Nebuchadnezzar when he captured these cities and invaded Egypt.


The charge preferred against Ammon was her cruelty to the people of Gilead, which occurred, perhaps, in connection with the cruelties perpetrated by Hazael, king of Syria (2 Kings 8: 12; 10:33; cf. 2 Kings 15:16 and Hos. 13:16). The punishment denounced upon Ammon was the destruction of Rabbah and the captivity of their king, perhaps meaning their god, Molech. This prophecy was fulfilled when the city was taken by Nebuchadnezzar, either at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, or in the course of his Egyptian invasion.


The charge preferred against Moab was that "he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime," which was done, doubtless, in connection with Israel or Judah, and may have been when the Edomites joined Jehoram and Jehoshaphat in the league against Mesha, the king of Moab (2 Kings 3:7, 9). There is a Jewish tradition that after this war the Moabites, in revenge for assistance which the king of Edom had given to the Israelites, dug up and dishonored his bones. This sacrilegious act was meant to redound to the disgrace of Israel. Hence this prophecy against Moab. The judgment denounced was that Moab should be destroyed, which was fulfilled when Nebuchadnezzar conquered this country (Jer. 27:3, 6).


The charge preferred against Judah was that he had rejected the law of Jehovah, and had not kept his statutes; that their lies had caused them to err, after which their fathers had walked. The judgment denounced in this case was that Jerusalem should be destroyed, which was literally fulfilled by Nebuzaradan, the captain of Nebuchadnezzar's guard (2 Kings 25:8-12). Amos 2:4 shows that Judah was already in 'possession of God's law but had broken his statutes. This refutes the radical theory as to the date of the writing of the Pentateuch. The charge preferred against Israel was fourfold: (1) injustice; (2) hardness of heart toward the poor; (3) incest; (4) luxury combined with idolatry. The judgment denounced here against Israel was the severest oppression and the most degrading captivity, which found fulfilment in the captivity wrought by Shalmaneser, king of Assyria (2 Kings 17:6).


The prophet in this connection cites several incidents in the history of Israel which should have taught them that God was their defender and preserver when they humbled themselves before him and kept his law. These examples are: (1) the destruction of the Amorites; (2) their deliverance from Egypt and forty years in the wilderness; (3) God gave them prophets and Nazarites of their own sons to instruct and lead them in the right ways. There is here an additional charge, twofold: (1) they had caused the Nazarites to drink wine and (2) they had refused to let the prophets prophesy.


The passage, 2:11, is important since it shows that there were prophets and Nazarites long known in Israel before Amos – another refutation of radical criticism.


In general, there is a difference between the sins of Judah and Israel for which they were all punished. The heathen were punished for cruelty or inhumanity in some form; Judah, for forsaking the law of Jehovah; Israel, for covetousness, injustice, lasciviousness, sacrilege, and forgetting Jehovah's kindness and rejecting his messengers. This is positive evidence that all nations as well as individuals are under the law of retribution.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. Who was Amos?

 

2. What can you say of the city of Tekoa?

 

3. What the date of his prophecy?

 

4. What the occasion of the prophecies?

 

5. What of the canonicity of the book of Amos?

 

6. What the character of this prophecy?

 

7. What wag his text and where did he get it?

 

8. What was his outline?

 

9. What the subject of this discourse and what the meaning of "Jehovah will roar from Zion"?

 

10. What the meaning of the phrase, "For three transgressions. . . . yea, for four," introducing the denunciations of the nations?

 

11. What the meaning of "I will send a fire, etc." used so frequently in these denunciations?

 

12. What the charge against Syria here denounced, what the judgment and when fulfilled?

 

13. What the charge preferred against Philistia, what the judgment denounced and when fulfilled?

 

14. What the charge against Phoenicia, what the judgment and when. fulfilled?

 

15. What the charge against Edom, what the judgment and when. fulfilled?

 

16. What the charge preferred against Ammon, what the judgment denounced and when fulfilled?

 

17. What the charge preferred against Moab, what the judgment denounced and when was it fulfilled?

 

18. What the charge preferred against Judah, what the judgment denounced and when was it fulfilled?

 

19. What the importance of 2:47

 

20. What the charge preferred against Israel, what the judgment denounced against her and when was it fulfilled?

 

21. What lessons of history here cited by the prophet and what additional charge brought against Israel?

 

22. What the importance of 2:11?

 

23. What, in general, the difference between the sins of the heathen. nations and the sins of Judah and Israel for which they were all punished?

 

 

VI

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE BOOK OF AMOS PART 2

Amos 3:1 to 9:15

 


Helps commended: (1) "Bible Commentary," (2) "Pulpit Commentary," (3) Pusey's Minor Prophets, (4) "Benson's Commentary."


The section, 3:1 to 6:14, consists of three parts, or three distinct addresses, each commencing with the words, "Hear this word."


The first address consists, in particular, of the verdict and sentence of Jehovah against all Israel, and is divided as follows: (1) a principle stated (3:1-8); (2) a reason assigned (3:9-12); (3) a sentence announced (3:13-15).


The principle stated in 3:1-8 is that an effect proves a cause. This principle is enforced by seven illustrative questions, viz: (1) communion proves agreement; (2) the lion's roar proves the prey; (3) the cry of the young lion proves the prey possessed; (4) the fall of the bird proves the bait; (5) the springing of the snare proves the bird to be taken; (6) the sounding of the trumpet proves the alarm; (7) calamity in the city proves Jehovah. The application of all this is made by the prophet) bringing in his text, as follows: "The lion [Jehovah] hath roared; therefore I fear. The Lord hath spoken, therefore I prophesy."


In 3:9-12 we hear the prophet giving a special invitation to the Philistines and Egyptians, Israel's inveterate enemies, to assemble in Samaria to witness the great wickedness and destruction of Israel because they did not do right, storing up violence and robbery in their palaces, and whose tumults and oppressions abounded toward the people. The judgment to follow was to be like the work of the lion devouring his prey.


The sentence announced (3:13-15) is the complete destruction of Israel, and the thoroughness of its execution is indicated by the sentence of destruction against its objects and places of worship and the smiting of the habitations of the rulers, showing the complete desolation of their city, Samaria.


The second address consists, in particular, of an indictment and a summons of Jehovah, and its parts are as follows: (1) the king of Bashan threatened (4:1-3); (2) a sarcastic command (4:4-5) ; (3) a list of providences (4:6-11); (4) a summons to an account (4:12-13).


In 4:1-3 we have Jehovah's threat against the carousing and oppressive women. Bashan was famous for its flocks and herds. The proud and luxurious matrons of Israel are here described as like the cattle of Bashan, because the cattle of the pastures of Bashan were uncommonly large, wanton, and headstrong by reason of their full feeding. These women because of their luxuries were oppressing the poor and crushing the needy. How perverted their natures must have been from the true instincts of womanhood! But such is the effect of luxury without grace. How depraved and animal-like to say, "Bring and let us drink," but such are the marks of a well-developed animal nature. No wonder that just here we should hear Jehovah's oath and threat announced: "they shall take you away with hooks," indicating their humiliation in contrast with their present luxury and pride. How true the proverb: "Pride goeth before a fall."


In 4:4-5 we have a sample of the prophet's sarcasm, commanding the people to multiply their offerings in their transgression at Gilgal and Bethel, the two most prominent places of worship in Israel. At these places they worshiped the calf after the pattern of Jeroboam 1.


In 4:6-11 there are mentioned five distinct providences of the Lord as follows: (2) a scarcity of food, or a famine, per- haps the famine of 2 Kings 8:1; (2) a severe drought; (3) a blasting with mildew; (4) a pestilence; (5) a destruction of cities. The express purpose of all these was to turn the people unto Jehovah. This is an everlasting refutation of the contention that God's providences do not come into the realm of the temporal. He sent the famine, he sent the drought, he sent the blasting and mildew, he sent the pestilence, and he overthrew the cities, and why not believe that he "is the same yesterday and today, yea and for ever" (Heb. 13:8)? A great text is found in Amos 4:11, and also in Amos 4:12.


In 4:12-13 we have the summons to get ready to meet a powerful and angry God. He had exhausted his mercy and chastisements to bring them back but all these things had failed, after which he calls them to meet him in judgment. So we may say that God is now in Christ exhausting his mercy and visiting the world with chastisements and when all has failed, he says to the one who has rejected his mercy and treated lightly his visitation, "Prepare to meet thy God," and it is appropriate to say that we may prepare to meet God in Christ, or we must meet him in judgment out of Christ, and out of Christ, "God is a consuming fire."


The third address consists of repeated announcements of judgments, with appeals to turn and do good, and its parts are as follows: (1) a lamentation, an exhortation, and a hope for the remnant (5:1-15) ; (2) another lamentation, a woe, a disgust, and a judgment (5:16-27); (3) another woe, an abhorrence, and a certain judgment (8:1-14).


In 5:1-15 we have a lamentation, an exhortation, and a hope expressed. The lamentation is that of the prophet himself, over the condition of Israel and the judgment already decreed. The exhortation is to repentance and to seek the true God. The hope is, that through repentance, a remnant of Israel may be saved. In 5:16-27 we have another lamentation, a woe, a disgust, and a judgment. The lamentation in this instance is that of the people when Jehovah comes in judgment upon the land; the woe is pronounced upon the hypocrite who wishes for the day of Jehovah, for it will be to him an awful day; the disgust here is that of Jehovah at their feasts, offerings, and music, because of their sins, and the judgment denounced is their captivity, beyond Damascus, or their captivity by the Assyrians. In 6:1-14 we have another woe, an abhorrence and a certain judgment. The woe in this passage is to the rich, luxurious oppressors who feel secure; the abhorrence is that of Jehovah for the excellency, or pride, of Jacob. As a result of it all there is denounced against Israel again her certain doom and the extent of it particularly noted.


Amos 7:1 to 9:10 consists of revelations for all Israel, conveyed by means of visions. The several parts of this section are as follows: (1) the locusts, (2) the fire, (3) the plumb line, (4) the basket of fruit, (5) Jehovah himself. In 7:1-3 we have the prophet's vision of the locusts which are represented as eating the grass of the land, the latter growth after the king's mowing. This signified a threatened judgment, which is the threatened invasion of Pul (Tiglathpileser II) (2 Kings 15:l-17ff.), but it was restrained by the intercession of the prophet, at which Jehovah repented and judgment was arrested.


In 7:4-6 we have the prophet's vision of fire which is represented as devouring the deep and was making for the land. This signified a threatened judgment more severe than the other, which is the second invasion of Tiglath-pileser II, who conquered Gilead and the northern part of the kingdom and carried some of the people captive to Assyria (2 Kings 15:29). This, too, was restrained by the intercession of the prophet, at which God repented and arrested the judgment.


In 7:7-9 we have the prophet's vision of the plumb line in the hand of Jehovah by which he signified that justice was to be meted out to Israel and that judgment was determined. So the prophet holds his peace and makes no more intercession. This judgment was irremediable and typified the final conquest by Shalmaneser.


Just after the vision of the plumb line there follows the incident of the interference of Amaziah, the priest of Bethel. This Amaziah was an imposter, and yet held the position of priest. He reported to Jeroboam what Amos was saying, advising his exile. He, moreover, attempted to appeal to the fear of Amos, and advised him to flee to Judah. The answer of Amos was full of dignity, born of the consciousness of the divine authority of his mission. He declared that he was no prophet, but that Jehovah had taken him and spoken to him; thus he had become a prophet in very deed. Then he prophesied against Amaziah declaring that God's judgment would overtake him and Israel.


In 8:1-14 we have the vision of a basket of ripe, summer fruit which indicates that the people were ripe for judgment and that judgment was imminent. Jehovah declared that the end had come; that he would not pass by them any more. This announcement was followed, on the part of the prophet, by an impassioned address to the money-makers, in which he declared the effect of their lust for gain, viz: they swallowed the needy and caused the poor to fail. He described the intensity of that lust, thus: the new moon and sabbath were irksome. Then follows a figurative description of judgment, which declared Jehovah's perpetual consciousness of these things and his consequent retribution. The final issue of judgment the prophet declared to be a famine of the words of the Lord, as a result of which there would come eager and fruitless search, followed by the fainting of youth because of their thirst for a knowledge of God. All this finds fulfilment in the events which followed in the history of Israel. They were deprived of prophets and revelations after Amos and Hosea, and the captivity came according to this prophecy, during which they had no prophets in the strange land of their captivity. This is a foreshadowing of Israel's condition today. She rejected the Messiah and for these two thousand years she has been without a prophet, priest or Urim and Thummim, no revelation from God to cheer their dark and gloomy hearts.


In 9:1-10 we have the vision of God himself standing beside the altar which symbolizes judgment executed, though there was no symbol, or sign. We hear the manifesto of Jehovah himself. It is one of the most awe-inspiring visions of the whole Bible. The message proceeded in two phases: First, an announcement of judgment irrevocable and irresistible; secondly, a declaration of the procedure so reasonable and discriminative. Jehovah is seen standing by the altar, declaring the stroke of destruction to be inevitable, and all attempts at escape futile, because he has proceeded to action. While the judgment is to be reasonable and discriminative, the claims in which Israel had trusted were nothing. They became as the children of the Ethiopians. The Philistines and the Syrians had also been led by God. The eyes of Jehovah were on the sinful kingdom and the sifting process must go forward but no grain of wheat should perish.


In Amos 9:11-15, we have a most consoling conclusion of this prophecy in sundry evangelical promises, after so many very severe and sharp menaces.


The phrase, "In that day," refers to the time after the events previously mentioned had been fulfilled and extends into the messianic age. See Acts 15:16. But what does the prophet mean by raising up the tabernacle of David? The promise, doubtless, at least in the first place, was intended of the return of the Jews from the land of their captivity, their resettlement in Judea, rebuilding Jerusalem, and attaining to the height of power and glory which they enjoyed under the Maccabees. This restoration was an event so extraordinary, and the hope of it so necessary to be maintained in the minds of the Jewish people, in order to their support under the calamity of their seventy years of captivity, that God was pleased to foretell it by the mouth of all his prophets. This prophecy however must be extended to the days of the Messiah, and to the calling of the Gentiles to the knowledge of the true God, according to Acts 15:16. They did not possess the remnant of Edom until after their restoration in the days of Hyrcanus, when they made an entire conquest of Edom, but the statement which follows, viz: "and all the nations that are called by my name," goes farther into the future and, at least, intimates the salvation of the Gentiles.


In 9:13 we have the promise of the blessings of grace to come in the messianic age in which the reaping shall be so great that the reapers cannot get out of the way of the sowers. This we see fulfilled now sometimes in a small way but these times of harvest are but the firstfruits of the harvest which is to follow, especially, the harvest that is to follow in the millennium. The promise of 9:14-15 will find its complete fulfilment at the return of the Jews to their own land and their conversion which will usher in the millennium and extend the glorious kingdom of our Lord.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. Of what in general, does the section, 3:1 to 6:14 consist and how does each part commence?

 

2. Of what, in particular, does the first address consist and what its parts?

 

3. What is the principle stated in 3:18, how illustrated and what the application?

 

4. In 3:9-12 who were invited to witness Israel's doom, what the reason assigned and what was to be the character of the judgment to come upon Israel?

 

5. What the sentence announced in 3:13-15, and how is the thoroughness of its execution indicated?

 

6. Of what, in particular, does the second address consist and what its parts?

 

7. What the force and application of "ye kine of Bashan" and what the threat against them?

 

8. What of the sarcastic command of verses 4-5?

 

9. What the items of providence cited and what their purpose as expressed by the prophet in 4:6-11?

 

10. What the summons of 4:12-13, and what application may be made of such texts in preaching?

 

11. Of what, in particular, does the third address consist, and what its

 

12. What the lamentation, what the exhortation and what the hope, of 5:1-15?

 

13. What the lamentation, what the woe, what the disgust, and what. The judgment of 5:16-27?

 

14. What the woe, what the abhorrence and what the certain judgment of 6:1-14?

 

15. Of what, in general, does the section, 7:1 to 9:10, consist, and what are its several parts?

 

16. What is the vision of locusts and what its interpretation?

 

17. What the vision of fire and what its interpretation?

 

18. What the vision of the plumb line and what its interpretation?

 

19. What historical incident follows the vision of the plumb line and what the several points of the story in detail?

 

20. What the vision of the basket of fruit, what its interpretation and what the prophet's explanation following?

 

21. What the vision of God himself and what its interpretation?

 

22. What, in general, the prophecy of 9:11-15?

 

23. What the meaning of the phrase, "In that day"?

 

24. What does the prophet mean by raising up the tabernacle of David?

 

25. When did they possess the remnant of Edom?

 

26. What the meaning of 9:13?

 

27. What the fulfilment of 9:14-15?

 

 

VII

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE BOOK OF HOSEA PART I

Hosea 1:1 to 4:5

 


Books commended: (1) "Pulpit Commentary," (2) "Bible Commentary," (3) "Cambridge Bible," (4) Sampey's Syllabus. Hosea, the prophet, was one of three who bore this name. The other two were Hoshea, afterward called Joshua (Num. 13:8-16), and Hoshea, the last king of Israel. These are shortened forms of the name "Jehoshea" which means, the Lord is my help, but the short form means savior, or deliverer. Hosea, the prophet, was a son of Beeri, but we know nothing of Beeri; nor do we know where Hosea was born or buried. We know that he was a prophet of Israel and, perhaps, was a native of the Northern Kingdom, but his tribal relation is only a guess with much uncertainty. He had frequent messages for Judah as well as for Israel, and at first he praised Judah but later on he warned and threatened her.


In the title Hosea is said to have prophesied "in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam, the son of Joash, king of Israel." Now the reign of these kings of Judah covered a period of one hundred and twelve years; so he must have lived to be quite an old man. Hosea probably commenced his prophetic work in the latter part of the reign of Jeroboam and in the early part of the reign of Uzziah, and extended it through the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and into the reign of Hezekiah, which would give us a period of fifty or sixty years for his work, say from 780 B.C. to 725 B.C., about fifty-five years. The internal evidence fully corroborates the statement of verse 1.


The period covered by his prophetic utterances was undoubtedly the darkest in the whole history of the kingdom of Israel. Political life was characterized by anarchy and misrule. The throne was occupied by men who obtained possession by the murder of their predecessors and the people were governed by military despotism. Zechariah was slain after a reign of six months; Shallum, after only one month. A dozen years later Pekahish was assassinated by Pekah, who met the same fate at the hands of Hoshea. All these were ungodly rulers, and the morals of the nation were sinking to the lowest ebb. The conditions were terrible in the extreme; luxurious living, robbery, oppression, falsehood, adultery, murder, accompanied by the most violent intolerance of any form of rebuke. The language of the prophet is influenced by the confusion about him in the nation and the disgrace of his own home. Then Israel being situated midway between Egypt and Assyria, two factions existed: one favoring alliance with Egypt; the other, with Assyria. Such were the circumstances which furnished the occasion of this prophecy.


The genuineness and canonicity of the prophecies of Hosea have never been widely called in question, nor has the book of Hosea been successfully distributed among the several authors differing in character, culture, and date, a division of labor which has played a great part in the criticism of other prophets. The book of Hosea, of a date and authenticity unquestioned, is a witness of the utmost value for previous portions of the Old Testament. A number of allusions put it beyond all reasonable doubt, that Hosea, in the eighth century before Christ, had in his hands a Hebrew literature identical with much of which we possess at this time.


In this book we find several allusions to the history of Genesis: (1) Adam's sin in paradise and expulsion therefrom (Hos. 6:7) ; (2) the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Hos. 11:8) ; (3) God's promise to Abraham (Hos. 1:10); (4) Jacob's experience (Hos. 12:3-4:13:15).


In Exodus, besides general allusions to Moses, we have the following verbal references: (1) Hosea 1:11 is a reference to Exodus 1:10; (2) Hosea 2:17, to Exodus 23:13. The curse denounced in Leviticus 26:14ff. is alluded to in Hosea. 7:12. The sin in the matter of Baal-peor discussed in Numbers is alluded to in Hosea 9:10.


There are several verbal citations of passages in Deuteronomy: (1) Deuteronomy 31:18, in Hosea 3:1; (2) Deuteronomy 17:8-13, in Hosea 4:4; (3) Deuteronomy 19:14; 27:17, in Hosea 5:10, and in many other instances. So we can find allusions to Joshua, Judges, and Samuel, showing that all these books were in the canon of sacred Scriptures in the time of Hosea just as we have them today.


Many of the finest passages in Hosea, practically all of the promises, are treated by the radical critics as interpolations by later writers; most of the references to Judah are stricken out, and the historical allusions to great men and events in the past are also cut out. This is revolutionary criticism and completely reverses the message of Hosea. There is not a scintilla of evidence to justify such a mutilation of "this book.


To show the fallacy of the radical critic theory of the Pentateuch I take the following from Sampey's Syllabus:


Professor James Robertson, in his able work on the Early Religion of Israel, has delivered heavy blows against the current radical theory of the origin of the Pentateuch, by emphasizing the following facts concerning Amos and Hosea, who are admitted by all parties to have lived and labored in the eighth century, B.C.:


1. These prophets had a rich vocabulary of moral and theological terms, implying a high degree of religious culture prior to their time.


2. They displayed literary skill such as would argue for a high development of the Hebrew language and literature before their time.


3. Both of these prophets, as well as Micah and Isaiah, far from regarding themselves as pathfinders in thought and practice, speak of their work as a return to the law of God given in former times. They plainly regard themselves as reformers, not innovators. These three lines of argument unite in favoring a date for the Pentateuch much earlier than that assigned by Wellhausen and his school.


Hosea, of all the prophets, is the most difficult to translate and interpret. His style is marked by obscure brevity; his mind was so aflame with the fiery message which he brought that he did not stop to weigh words for the sake of clearness. Jerome says, "Hosea is concise, and speaks in detached sentences." The prophet felt too deeply to express himself calmly. Amos 1-3 is in prose; the rest of the book is rhythmical, but almost destitute of parallelism, a general characteristic of Hebrew poetry. The first three chapters are symbolical and strikingly graphic; the rest is literal, that "he may run who reads," i.e., "run through it in reading."


This book naturally divides itself into two parts: a shorter one (1-3), and a longer one (4-14), as follows:

 

ANALYSIS HOSEA – SPIRITUAL ADULTERY

 

I. The preparation of the prophet (1-3)


1. His domestic relations and the symbolical import (1:2 to 2:1)


(1) His orders, his marriage, and his family (1:2-9)


(2) His vision of hope (1:10102:1)


2. His domestic tragedy, a revelation (2:2-23)


(1) The charge explained (2:2-7)


(2) The severity of love (2:8-13)


(3) The tenderness of love (2:14-20)


(4) The promise of enlargement (2:21-23)


3. His reclamation of Gomer and its revelation (3:1-5)


(1) His orders (3:1)


(2) His obedience (3:2-3)


(3) His vision of future Israel (3:4-5)

 

II. The preaching of the prophet (4:1 to 14:8)


NOTE: Of all the parts of the Bible, this, perhaps, is the hardest to analyze. Sampey says, "These chapters defy logical analysis," and Bishop Lowth calls them "scattered leaves of a sibyl's book." This section consists of detached selections from Hosea's prophecies, without regard to logical order. They are perhaps more chronological than logical. There have been several attempts to analyze these chapters but all alike seem to have been baffled with the difficulty of the task. The author ventures, as a kind of analysis to guide us in our study of this section, the following selected outline:


1. Pollution and pursuit (4:1 to 6:3)


2. Pollution and punishment (6:4 to 10:15)


3. Pollution and pity (10:1 to 14:8)


On the three main views of the marriage of Hosea I take the following from Sampey's Syllabus:


1. That the whole is an allegory or parable. This is the view of Calvin, who objects to an actual marriage of the prophet with an unchaste woman on the ground that it would discredit him with the very people whom he wished to influence. He says: "It would have then exposed the prophet to the scorn of all if he had entered a brothel and taken to himself a harlot." Calvin insists that the expression "wife of whoredom" could mean nothing less than a common prostitute. He replies to the argument that this was an exceptional case by saying that it seems inconsistent with reason that the Lord should thus gratuitously render his prophet contemptible. He thinks the expression, "Children of wantoness," also militates against the literal view. Calvin seems to think that the woman referred to in the third chapter was different from the one named in the first, but that we are not to imagine a real occurrence in either case. Calvin's interpretation, in detail, of the language of Hosea seems to be greatly weakened by his theory of the imaginary character of the marriage.


2. Some think that Hosea actually married a woman who was leading an unchaste life; that she bore three children to him and then lapsed into her old life once more, sinking into a condition of slavery from which she was bought by Hosea and restored to his home, though not at first to the full intimacy of married life. This view, it must be confessed, would seem the most natural to a plain reader. The chief objection is moral. How could the Holy God direct a pure-minded prophet to form such an unnatural union? Some authorities think that Hosea's language, in describing his marriage has been colored by his later experiences; and that he has interpreted God's command to him to marry in darker words by reason of the experiences which followed the union. However that may be, it seems exceedingly difficult to believe that God would direct His prophet to marry a woman already living in unchastity.


3. Others hold that Hosea was directed to marry a woman given to idolatry, an idolatry which was often associated with licentiousness, although his bride was not an actually unchaste woman at first, but only a spiritual adulteress. She bore to the prophet three children, to whom symbolical names were given. Later on, idolatry brought forth its natural fruitage, and Hosea's wife became an actual adulteress. Whether she then deserted Hosea, or whether he divorced her, we are not told. Now Hosea could understand why Jehovah was grieved with unfaithful Israel to the point of casting her off. The unspeakable love and compassion of God for His unfaithful spouse prepared Hosea in some measure to obey the divine command to recover his own unfaithful wife and restore her to his home.


The third view has more to recommend it than either of the other two. Hosea's bitter domestic sorrow became an object-lessen for himself and his people. His heart was almost broken by shame and grief, but he was thereby fitted to portray the heinousness of apostasy, on the one hand, and, on the other, Jehovah's tenderness and compassion toward His unfaithful people.


In 1:2-9 we have set forth the condition of the people of Israel at this time and their relation to Jehovah. There are several words and phrases in it that need explanation. "When Jehovah spoke at the first" means the beginning of Hosea's prophecies in the latter part of the reign of Jeroboam II, and refers to God's first command to him. "Gomer" means failing, or consummation and indicates the decline of Israel at that time because of her sins. "Jezreel," the name of the first-born means scattered by God and is contrasted with "Israel" which means, prince with God, i.e., "Jezreel" indicates a prophecy of Israel's scattering which was fulfilled in the destruction of the house of Jehu in which God would avenge the awful deeds of Jehu though he did his work at the command of God, but with the spirit of vengeance and with no thought of the glory of God. The kingdom of Israel, though spared about fifty years, soon ceased, when her bow, the symbol of her strength, was broken in the valley of Jezreel by Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, & Israel was scattered.


Then a daughter was born to Gomer whom the prophet was instructed to call "Lo-ruhamah," which means hath not obtained mercy and as applied to Israel at this time, signifies that God had visited her in her wickedness; that Israel was pass-ing beyond the hope of mercy and pardon. Then the prophet contrasts with this condition of Israel the mercy of Jehovah to Judah which was fulfilled in the destruction of Sennacherib's army and the extension of the life of Judah one hundred and thirty-two years beyond that of Israel. This prophecy concerning Judah was, doubtless, intended to encourage the faithful in Israel.


Then followed a third child born to the woman, whom the prophet was instructed to name "Loammi," which means not my people and indicates Jehovah's complete rejection of Israel because of her violation of the marriage covenant. So the prophet's children symbolized, step by step, the sad gradation of Israel's fast-coming calamity. The name, "Jezreel," scattered of God, denotes the first blow dealt to them by divine Providence, from which it was possible for them by repentance to recover; "Loruhamah," without mercy, imparts another and heavier blow, yet not beyond all hope of recovery; but "Loammi," not my people, puts an end to hope, implying the rejection of Israel by the Almighty. The national covenant was annulled; God had cast off his people who were left hopeless and helpless, because of their sinful and ungrateful departure from the fountain of all blessing.


In 1:10 to 2:1 we have set forth clearly the promise of the return and conversion of the Jews. There is, perhaps, a primary fulfilment in the return under Zerubbabel and Joshua but the larger and clearer fulfilment is yet to be realized in the gathering of the Jews and their consequent conversion at which time the millennium will be introduced and the great multitudes of spiritual Israel here referred to will be converted. Then Jezreel will be reversed in its application and made to apply to the planting of Israel in her own land; and right where they are now said not to be God's people they shall be called God's people. Israel and Judah shall have one head, the Messiah, and not only will Jezreel be reversed in its application, but also the names of the other two children will lose their negative meaning, and, instead of Loruhamah and Loammi, there will be Ammi, my people and Ruhhamah, the beloved. Such will be the conditions of fellowship on their return. This accords with Romans 9:26-27 and other New Testament quotations.


The charge against the Israelites in 2:2-7 is their idolatries in which they have forgotten him and their obligations to him. The mother here is Israel taken collectively and is represented as a wife, unfaithful to the marriage relation. The threat of stripping her naked is in accord with the Oriental custom of dealing with the harlot, which is the method also of the Germans in dealing with an adulteress. This is described by Tacitus thus: Accisis crimibus nudatam coram propingius expellit domo maritus. Her children are the children of Israel individually who are also barred from the privileges of the covenant and there are no blessings for them. Her lovers mentioned here are her idols to which she had turned for support, for which the Lord pronounces the curse upon them, that will turn them back to himself.


The severity of Jehovah's love for them is shown in 2:8-13. For her disregard of Jehovah's blessings, and attributing them to Baalim, he removes them and subjects Israel to the most severe chastisements, here described as "nakedness," "shame," "mirth to cease, her feasts, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn assemblies," the waste of the land, the visit of the days of Baalim, etc., which are expressions of the severity of his love to bring Israel to repentance. The fulfilment of these predictions we find in part in the conditions of the captivity but the author believes the reference here to the feasts and solemn assemblies to include the fulfilment of them by Christ on the cross as expressed in Colossians 2:14-17.


The passage, 2:14-20, is in contrast with the preceding paragraph and should be translated: "Notwithstanding, I will allure, etc.," which expresses Jehovah's kindness to Israel in her captivity, which is intended to allure her to return to him. He shows here his tender love for Israel by making her troubles valley of Achor) the door of her hope. The new relation is expressed by the word, "Ishi," which means my husband instead of "Baali," my master. These terms are appellatives and should not be translated as proper names. There is a play upon the word, "Baal," by which it is made to express their former relation to Jehovah as servant and master, because of Israel's going after Baalim, as if to say, "If you make Baal your God, then I will be to you as Baali, i.e., master, but in this captivity I will take Baalim out of your mouth." This is one of the blessings of the captivity, viz: The permanent cure of Israel of all forms of idolatry.


Then his love finds expression in the covenant with the beasts of the field, the doing away with war and the establishing of the betrothal relation in perfect righteousness. The covenant with the beasts here seems to correspond exactly with Isaiah 11:6-9 in which there is a clear reference to the messianic age, and does not find its larger fulfilment until the millennium. May the good Lord hasten the time when
No strife shall rage, nor hostile feuds Disturb these peaceful years; To plowshares men shall beat their swords, To pruning-hooks, their spears. No longer hosts, encount'ring hosts, Shall crowds of slain deplore; They hang the trumpet in the hall, And study war no more.


In 2:21-23 we have a clear and distinct promise of the conversion of the Jews and their consequent evangelization (together with Gentile Christians) of the world in the millennium. The blessings of this period are given in the terms of both the temporal and the spiritual, the temporal referring to the response of the heavens and the earth to the call of God and his people in giving blessings and the spiritual blessings are expressed in the sowing of Israel among the nations and the blessings upon them who were not God's people. This certainly comprehends the time of the millennium in which the Jews shall play such a signal part in the evangelization of the world, as expressed in Romans 9:23.


Chapter 3 sets forth God's command to Hosea to go and buy back Gomer, his unfaithful wife, who had been sold as a slave, the prophet's prompt obedience and his vision of future Israel. This is an illustration of God's great and boundless love for depraved unfaithful Israel, though like the unfaithful wife, she had forsaken Jehovah, her husband. The prophet kept her many days exercising the restraint upon her necessary to bring her to repentance. So the prophet explains that the children of Israel shall abide many days without king, etc., after which they shall return and seek Jehovah, their God, and shall have his favor upon them in the latter days.


There was a partial fulfilment of verse 4 in the period of the captivity, but surely there is a clear prophecy here of the long period of the tribulation which followed the Jewish rejection of the Messiah and which will continue until the Jews shall look on him whom they have pierced and by faith embrace him as their long looked-for Messiah. As we behold the Jew today we see him "without king, and without prince, and without sacrifice, and without pillar, and without ephod or teraphim," but after many days he shall turn and seek Jehovah his God and David (Christ) his king and in the days of their ingathering will be the joy of the harvest.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. Who was Hosea?

 

2. What the date of his prophecy?

 

3. What the occasion, or circumstances, of his prophecies?

 

4. What of the genuineness and canonicity of this book?

 

5. What its relation, in general, to the sacred canon?

 

6. What allusions do we find in this book to the book of Genesis?

 

7. What allusions to the history in Exodus?

 

8. What allusion to Leviticus?

 

9. What allusion to Numbers?

 

10. What allusions to Deuteronomy?

 

11. How do the Radical Critics deal with the book of Hosea?

 

12. What the relation of Amos and Hosea to recent theories of radical criticism respecting the origin of the Pentateuch, as shown by Prof. James Robertson?

 

13. What can you say of the character and style of this prophecy?

 

14. What the outline, or analysis, of the book?

 

15. What the three main views of the marriage of Hosea and which is the more commendable?

 

16. What is the interpretation and application of 1:2-9?

 

17. What the promise of 1:10 to 2:1?

 

18. What the charge against Israel as revealed in the domestic tragedy of 2:2-7 ?

 

19. How is the severity of Jehovah's love for them shown in 2:8-13, and what the fulfilment of the predictions contained therein?

 

20. How does Jehovah show the tenderness of his love in 2:14-20 and what the fulfilment of its predictions?

 

21. What the promise of 2:21-23 and when the ideals here set forth to be realized?

 

22. What the contents of chapter III and what is revelation?

 

23. What the fulfilment of the predictions of 3:4-5?

 

 

VIII

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE BOOK OF HOSEA PART 2

Hosea 4:1 to 14:9

 


What has previously been presented in figure and symbol in the first section of the book is now plainly and literally stated. Jehovah's controversy with Israel is set forth in Hosea 4:1-5. Someone has called this "The Lord's Lawsuit" in which he brings grave charges against Israel for sins of omission followed by sins of commission. The sins of omission which led to the sins of commission are that there were no truth, no goodness, and no knowledge of God in the land. These omissions led to the gravest sins of commission, viz: profanity, covenant-breaking, murder, stealing, and adultery. The evidence in this case was so strong that there was no plea of "not guilty" entered, and Jehovah proceeded at once, after making the indictment, to announce the sentence: Destruction!


This verdict of destruction was for the lack of knowledge, which emphasizes the responsibility of the opportunity to know. They had rejected knowledge and had forgotten the law of Jehovah, and as the priests were the religious leaders and instructors of the people, the sentence is heavy against them, but "like people, like priest" shows the equality of the responsibility and the judgment. There is no excuse for either. He who seeks to know the agenda, God will reveal the credenda. The sentence is again stated, thus: Rejection, forgetting her children, shame, requite them their doings, hunger and harlotry. Such a sentence hung over them like a deadly pall.


In 4:11-14 whoredom and wine are named together, not by accident but because they are companion evils, which is the universal testimony of those who practice either. Here they are said to take away the understanding, or as the Hebrew puts it, the heart. Both are literally true. That the understanding is marred and blighted by these evils is evidenced in the case of the thousands who have rendered themselves unfit for service anywhere by wasting their strength with wine and harlots. That the heart, the seat of affections, is destroyed by these evils witness the thousands of divorce cases in our courts today. By such a course the very vitals of man are burnt out and he then becomes the prey to every other evil in the catalogue. Let the youth of our country heed the warning of the prophet. Here Israel, engrossed with these sins, is pictured as going deeper and deeper in sin and degradation until they pass beyond the power of description. Notice that the Lord here holds the men responsible and pronounces a mighty invective against the modem double standard of morals. In God's sight the transgressor is the guilty party, whether man or woman.


Though Israel has played the harlot, Judah is warned in 4: 15-19 that she may not follow the example of Israel. The places of danger are pointed out and the example of Israel is used to enforce the warning. Israel is stubborn; Ephraim is joined to his idols; let him alone. Israel is wrapped in the winds of destruc-tion and shall soon be put to shame, therefore, take heed, Judah.


There are several notable things in the address of 5:1-7: First, the whole people – priests, Israel, and the royal houseù was involved in the judgment because each one was responsible for the existing conditions, their great centers of revolt against Jehovah being pointed out as Mizpeh, east of the Jordan; and Tabor, west of the Jordan. Second, the fact that Jehovah himself was the rebuker of them. God is the one undisputable judge and he will judge and he will judge them all.
Though the mills of God grind slowly, Yet they grind exceeding small; Though with patience He stands waiting, With exactness grinds He all,


Third, God's omniscience: "I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from me." So he knows us and there is nothing hid from him. Fourth, men are hindered from turning to God by their gins. Fifth, positive instruction awaits the sinner (v. 5). Sixth, sacrifices and seeking are too late after doom is pronounced. Repentance must come within the space allotted for it; otherwise, it is too late.


The cornet and trumpet in 5:8-15 signifies the alarm in view of the approaching enemy. In the preceding paragraph the prophet signified their certain destruction and now he indicates that it is at hand, again assigning the reason, that Judah had become as bold as those who remove the landmarks, and Ephraim was content to walk after man's commandments. Then he shows by the figure of the moth and the woodworm that he is slowly consuming both Israel and Judah, but they were applying to other powers for help to hold out and that the time would come when he, like the lion, would make quick work of his judgments upon Israel and Judah; that they will not seek him till their affliction comes.


Paragraph 6:1-3 is the exhortation of the Israelites to one another at the time of their affliction mentioned in the last verse of the preceding chapter and should be introduced by the word, "saying," as indicated in the margin of 5:15. The expressions, "He hath torn" and "he hath smitten," evidently refer to the preceding verses which describe Jehovah's dealing with Israel and Judah as a lion. This exhortation represents them after their affliction, saying to one another, "Come, and let us return unto Jehovah," etc. The "two days" and the "third day" are expressions representing short periods, not literal or typical days. They are then represented as pursuing knowledge which is the opposite to their present condition in their lack of knowledge. Now they are perishing for the lack of knowledge but then they will flourish as land flourishes in the time of the latter rain. There is a primary fulfilment of this prophecy in the return after the captivity but the larger fulfilment will be at their final return and conversion at which commences the revival destined to sweep the world into the kingdom of God. As Peter says, it will be "the times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:19).


A paraphrase of Hosea 6:4-11 shows its interpretation and application, thus: “O Ephraim, O Judah, I am perplexed as to what remedy next to apply to you; your goodness is so shallow and transitory that my judgments have to be repeated from time to time. I desire goodness, i.e., works of charity, the right attitude of life, and the proper condition of the heart, rather than sacrifice. But instead of this you have, like Adam in the garden of Eden, transgressed my covenant and have dealt treacherously against me, as in the case of the Gileadites and the case of the murderous priests in the way to Shechem, and oh, the horribleness of your crimes! and, O Judah, there is a harvest for you, too."


In the charges against Israel in 7:1-16 the prophet gives the true state of affairs, viz: that the divine desire to heal was frustrated by the discovery of pollution, and by their persistent ignoring of God; that the pollution of the nation was manifest in the king, the princes, and the judges; that Ephraim was mixing among the people and had widespread influence, over the ten tribes, yet he was as a cake not turned; that he was an utter failure, being developed on one side, and on the other destroyed by burning; that he was unconscious of his wasting strength and ignored the plain testimony of the Pride of Israel; that as a silly dove, he was indicating fear and cowardice. Then the prophet concludes the statement of the case by a declaration of the utter folly of the people whom God was scourging toward redemption, to which they responded by howling, assembling, and rebelling.


Now we take up chapter 8. From the statement of the case the prophet turned, in verses 1-14, to the pronouncement of judgment by the figure of the trumpet lifted to the mouth, uttering five blasts, in each of which the sin of the people was set forth as revealing the reason for judgment. The first blast declared the coming of judgment under the figure of an eagle, because of transgression and trespass. The second blast emphasized Israel's sin of rebellion, in that they had set up kings and princes without authority of Jehovah. The third dealt with Israel's idolatry, announcing that Jehovah had cast off the calf of Samaria. The fourth denounced Israel's alliances and declared that her hire among the nations had issued in her diminishing. The fifth drew attention to the altars of sin and announced the coming judgment.


These judgments in detail are given in chapter 9. Its first note was that of the death of joy. Israel could not find her joy like other peoples. Having known Jehovah, everything to which she turned in turning from him, failed to satisfy. How true is this of the individual backslider! The unsatisfied heart is constantly crying out,
Where is the blessedness I knew, When first I saw the Lord? Where is the soul-refreshing view Of Jesus and his word?


The second note was that of actual exile to which she must pass: back to the slavery of Egypt and Assyria and away from the offerings and feasts of the Lord. The third was that of the cessation of prophecy. The means of testing themselves would be corrupted. The fourth declared the retributive justice of fornication. The prophet traced the growth of this pollution from its beginning at Baal-peor, and clearly set forth the inevitable deterioration of the impure people. The fifth and last was that of the final casting out of the people by God so that they should become wanderers among the nations.


In chapter 10 we have the prophet's recapitulation and appeal. This closes the section. The whole case is stated under the figure of the vine. Israel was a vine of God's planting which had turned its fruitfulness to evil account and was therefore doomed to his judgment. The result of this judgment would be the lament of the people that they had no king who was able to deliver them, and chastisement would inevitably follow. The last paragraph is an earnest and passionate appeal to return to loyalty.


Some things in chapter 10 need special explanation: First, note the expression here, "They will say to the mountains, Cover us; and to the hills, Fall on us." This furnishes the analogue for the final destruction of the world and the judgment as given in Luke 23:30 and Revelation 6:16. Here the expression is used to indicate the horrors of the capture and destruction of the kingdom of Israel, the sufferings and distress of which are a foreshadowing of the great tribulation at the end of the world.


Second, the reference to Gibeah in 10:9 needs a little explanation. This sin of Gibeah is the sin of the shameful outrage which with its consequences is recorded in Judges 19-20. That sin became proverbial, overtopping, as it did, all the ordinary iniquities, by its shameless atrocity and heinousness. By a long-continued course of sin, even from ancient days, Ephraim had been preparing for a fearful doom.


The third reference is to Shalman who destroyed Betharbel (10:14). There are several theories about this incident. Some think that "Shalman" is a short form of "Shalmaneser," that Shalmaneser IV, who in the invasion which is mentioned (2 Kings 17:3) fought a battle in the valley of Jezreel, in which he broke the power of Samaria in fulfilment of Hosea 1:5 and about the same time stormed the neighboring town of Arbela, but who this "Shalman" was and what place was "Betharbel" are only matters of uncertain conjecture. All that is positively known is that the sack of Betharbel had made upon the minds of the Israelites an impression similar to that which in the seventeenth century was made far and wide by the sack of Madgeburg.


According to our brief outline the title of section 11:1 to 14:8 is "Pollution and Pity." This third cycle of the prophecy sets forth the pity which Jehovah has for his sinning people, and contains a declaration of Jehovah's attitude toward Israel notwithstanding her sin. Chapters 11-13 are for the most part the speech of Jehovah himself. He sums up, and in so doing declares his sense of the awfulness of their sin, pronouncing his righteous judgment thereupon. Yet throughout the movement the dominant notes are those of pity and love, and the ultimate victory of that love over sin, and consequently over judgment. Three times in the course of this great message of Jehovah to his people (11:1 to 13:16), the prophet interpolates words of his own.


This message of Jehovah falls into three clearly marked elements which deal: (1) with the present in the light of past love (11:1-11); (2) with the present in the light of present love (12:7-11) ; (3) with the present in the light of future love (13:4-14).


The prophet's interpolations set forth the history of Israel indicating their relation to Jehovah, and pronounce judgment. They form a remarkable obligate accompaniment, in a minor key, to the majestic love song of Jehovah, and constitute a contrasting introduction to the final message of the prophet. The first of them reveals the prophet's sense of Jehovah's controversy with Judah, his just dealings with Jacob, and, reminiscent of Jacob's history, he makes a deduction and an appeal (11:12 to 13:6). The second traces the progress of Israel to death (12:12 to 13:3). The third declares their doom (13:15-16).


Then in general, Jehovah's message in 11:1-11 is as follows:


In this first movement, Jehovah reminded the people of his past love for them in words full of tenderness, setting out their present condition in its light, and crying, "How shall I give thee up?" Which inquiry was answered by the determined declaration of the ultimate triumph of love, and the restoration of the people.


There are two incidents of Israel's history cited in this first part of Jehovah's message. The first incident cited is the calling of Israel out of Egypt, which is quoted in Matthew 2:15 and applied to our Lord Jesus Christ as a fulfilment of this prophecy. Hosea clearly refers to the calling of Israel out of Egypt, the nation being elsewhere spoken of as God's son (Ex. 4:22; Jer. 3:9). But there is evident typical relation between Israel and the Messiah.


As Israel in the childhood of the nation was called out of Egypt, so Jesus. We may even find resemblance in minute details; his temptation of forty days in the desert, resembles Israel's temptation of forty years in the desert, which itself corresponded to the forty days spent by the spies (Num. 14:34). Thus we see how Hosea's historical statement concerning Israel may have been also a prediction concerning the Messiah, as the Evangelist declares it was. It is not necessary to suppose that this was present to the prophet's consciousness. Exalted by inspiration, a prophet may well have said things having deeper meanings than he was distinctly aware of, and which only a later inspiration, coming when the occasion arose, could fully unfold – BROADUS on Matthew 2:15.


The second incident in the history of God's people cited is the destruction of Adman, Zeboim, Sodom, and Gomorrah, all of which are mentioned in Deuteronomy 29:23 as destroyed by Jehovah for their wickedness. The warning is a powerful one to Ephraim, or Israel, who are here threatened with destruction.


The prophet's message in his first interpolation (11:12 to 12:6) is a lesson from the history of Jacob showing Israel's relation to him. The prophet here goes back to the earliest history of Jacob showing God's dealing with him from his conception to his settlement at Bethel, where God gave him the promise of a multitude of descendants. This bit of history includes the struggle between him and Esau before birth, and his wrestling with the angel.


In 12:7-11 Jehovah sets out their present sin in the light of his present love. The sin of Ephraim and its pride and impertinence are distinctly stated and yet over all, love triumphs. Jehovah declared himself to be the God who delivered them from Egypt, and who would be true to the message of the prophets, to the visions of the seers and to the similitudes of the ministry of the prophets. There is an allusion in verse 7 to Jacob's deception of Isaac, which characteristic seems to have been handed down to his posterity, as here indicated.


In the prophets second interpolation (12:12 to 13:3) he traces the progress of Israel to death, beginning at the flight to the field of Aram, through the exodus from Egypt and the preservation to the present, in which Ephraim was exalted in Israel, offended in Baal and died. Their certain doom is here announced.


Then follows Jehovah's message in 13:4-14 in which he sets forth the present condition of Israel in the light of his future love. Sin abounds, and therefore judgment is absolutely unavoidable. Nevertheless, the mighty strength of love must overcome at last.


There are several things in the passage worthy of special note. First, the allusions here to Jehovah's dealings with them from Egypt to their destination in Canaan, their exaltation and his destruction of them. Second, the allusion to their history under kings, beginning with Saul, whom he gave them in his anger and whom he took away in his wrath. The statement may apply to the long line of kings of the Northern Kingdom, but it fits the case of Saul more especially and throws light on the problem of Saul's mission as king of Israel. Third, the promise of their restoration under the figure of a resurrection (13:14), which is quoted and applied to the final resurrection by Paul (1 Cor. 15:55) and which shows the typical import of this passage. It is like a flash of light in the darkest hour of despair.


Dr. Pusey on this passage has well said:


God by his prophets mingles promises of mercy in the midst of his threats of punishment. His mercy overflows the bounds of the occasion upon which he makes it known. He had sentenced Ephraim to temporal destruction. This was unchangeable. He points to that which turns all temporal loss into gain, that eternal redemption. The words are the fullest which could have been chosen. The word rendered "ransom" signifies rescued them by the payment of a price; the word rendered "redeem" relates to one who, as the nearest of kin, had the right to acquire anything as his own by paying the price. Both words in their exactest sense, describe what Jesus did, buying us with a price . . . and becoming our near kinsman by his incarnation. . . . The words refuse to be tied down to temporal deliverance. A little longer continuance in Canaan is not a redemption from the power of the grave; nor was Ephraim so delivered.


The expression, "repentance shall be hid from mine eyes," means that God will never turn from his purpose to be merciful to Israel.


In the prophet's last interpolation (13:15-16) he goes back to the death sentence showing the complete destruction of Ephraim and Samaria by the Eastern power, Assyria. The reference to Ephraim's fruitfulness goes back to the promise of Jacob to Joseph, "He shall be a fruitful bough," though Ephraim had turned this fruitfulness to evil and thus is brought to desolation.


Chapter 14 gives us the final call of the prophet with the promise of Jehovah. The call was to the people to return because they had fallen by iniquity. It suggests the method of returning, as being that of bringing words of penitence, and forsaking all false gods. To this Jehovah answered in a message full of hope for the people, declaring that he would restore, renew, and ultimately reinstate them. There is no question but that this final word of prophecy has a reference to the return from the exile but that this return does not exhaust the meaning of this prophecy is also very evident. The larger fulfilment is to be spiritual and finds its expression in the final conversion of the Jews as voiced by Peter: "Repent ye therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that so there may come seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:19).


The book closes with a brief epilogue, which demands attention to all the prophet has written, whether for warning, or reproof, or correction in righteousness, or encouragement to piety and virtue. Like the dictates of the Word, so the dispensations of his providence are to some the savor of life, to others the savor of death. So it is added that, while the righteous walk therein, in them the wicked stumble.


In closing this chapter I will say that Hosea occupies a period of transition in developing the messianic idea from the earlier prophets to Micah and Isaiah, in whose writings abounds the messianic element:


(1) Hosea, like Amos, predicts the destruction of the kingdom of Israel, but he looks beyond it to a brighter day, when the children of Israel will be as the sand of the sea in number, will be accepted of Jehovah as sons and daughters, and Judah and Israel will have one head, Christ (Hos. 1:10 to 2:1, et al).


(2) Hosea's experience with an unfaithful wife is an object lesson of God's forgiveness of Israel. Their spiritual adultery must lead them into exile but Jehovah will betroth Israel to himself in righteousness, and take the Gentiles into the same covenant (Hos. 2:2 to 3:5; Rom. 9:25-26).


(3) Hosea 11:1 was fulfilled in the return of Joseph and Mary from Egypt with the babe, Jesus (Matt. 2:15). So Jesus the antitype of Adam, Israel, and David.


(4) Hosea 11:8-11 expresses Jehovah's promise to restore Israel.


(5) Hosea 13:14 is a messianic promise foreshadowing the resurrection.


(6) Hosea 14:1-8 is a messianic promise of Israel's final repentance, God's reinstatement of them and their abundant blessings in the millennium.


I quote Dr. Sampey:
In general, the earlier prophets describe clearly a terrible captivity of Jehovah's people, to be followed by a return to their own land, where they were to enjoy the divine blessing. The everlasting love and compassion of Jehovah are repeatedly described, and the future enlargement of Israel is clearly set forth. The person of Messiah, however, is not distinctly brought before the reader. Isaiah and Micah will have much to say of the character and work of the Messaih Himself

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What the character of this division, as contrasted with the first three chapters of Hosea?

 

2. What Jehovah's controversy with Israel as set forth in Hosea 4:1-5?

 

3. Why the verdict of destruction, as set forth in Hosea 4:6-10?

 

4. What two practices are named together in Hosea 4:11-14, and what their effect upon the mind of man?

 

5. What warning to Judah in 4:15-19?

 

6. What the notable things in the address of 5:1-7?

 

7. What the significance and the application of the cornet and trumpet in 5:8-15?

 

8. What the interpretation and application of 6:1-3?

 

9. Paraphrase Hosea 6:4-11 so as to show its interpretation and application.

 

10. What the charges against Israel in 7:1-16?

 

11. How does the prophet pronounce judgment and what the significance in each case (Hos. 8:1-14)?

 

12. Describe these judgments in detail as given in chapter 9.

 

13. State briefly the prophet's recapitulation and appeal (Hos.10:1-15).

 

14. What things in chapter 10 need special explanation, and what the explanation in each case?

 

15. According to our brief outline what the title of section 11:1 to 14:8, and what in general, are its contents?

 

16. What the general features of the message of Jehovah?

 

17. What the general features of the prophet's interpolations?

 

18. What, in general, is Jehovah's message in 11:1-11?

 

19. What two incidents of Israel's history cited in this first part of Jehovah's message, and what their interpretation and application?

 

20. What the prophet's message in his first interpolation (11:12 to 12:6)?

 

21. What, in general, Jehovah's message in 12:7-11?

 

22. What allusion to an incident in the life of Jacob in this passage?

 

23. What the substance of the prophet's second interpolation (12:12 to 13:3)?

 

24. What, in general, Jehovah's message in 13:4-14?

 

25. What things in the passage worthy of special note?

 

26. What the prophet's message in his last interpolation (13:15-16)?

 

27. What the contents of chapter 14?

 

28. Give a summary of the messianic predictions in the book of Hosea.

 

 

IX

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE BOOK OF ISAIAH PART I – AN INTRODUCTION

 


Helps Commended: (1) Sampey's Syllabus. (2) "Bible Commentary." (3) "Pulpit Commentary." (4) Urquhart's "Biblical Guide," Vols. VI and VII. (5) Smith's Dictionary of the Bible – Article, "Isaiah." (6) Jamieson, Fausset and Brown. (7) Isaiah One and His Book One, Douglas. (8) A Harmony of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles, Crockett.


Of Isaiah's personal life we know almost nothing. His name means "the salvation of Jehovah," and it was not uncommon, since several others bore the same name. It was of singular appropriateness in this case because it was "the salvation of Jehovah" which he was commissioned to preach. He has rightly been called "the evangelical prophet," and he ranks with such luminaries as. Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Elijah, and Elisha. Yet, neither he nor his personal concerns are obtruded upon our notice. We have to search for hints and indications, and it is only when we have pondered these that the manner of the man is revealed to us. In his literary productions we find the evidence of a high type of culture. He, in all probability, was a product of the schools of the prophets and, undoubtedly, he was by far the best educated of all the prophets. He was one of the greatest personalities of his time, and no one can fail to see the deep devotion, the wholehearted consecration, and the richly endowed nature of the man.


Of his family we have a few hints. His father's name was Amoz, not Amos, the prophet, whose name differs from Amoz, both in its initial and in its final letter. Amoz, according to Jewish tradition, was a brother of King Amaziah, but this tradition is hardly to be credited, since it would make Isaiah too old. Isaiah was married, and his wife is known as "the prophetess," perhaps meaning only that she was the wife of a prophet. Isaiah tells us that he had two sons, She-ar-jashub and Ma-her-shal-al-hash-baz, the first named being the elder of the two by many years.


There is a tradition of the rabbis that Isaiah lived to the reign of Manasseh and then suffered a most horrible martyrdom. Isaiah, having resisted the wicked acts of Manasseh, was seized by his orders, placed between two planks, and killed by being "sawn asunder." This mode of punishment is mentioned in Hebrews 11:37, and perhaps alludes to Isaiah's fate. This tradition was accepted as authentic by Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Lactantius, Jerome, and Augustine, and is likely true.


As to his character, we can certainly say that he was uncompromising in his attitude toward all four of the ungodly "kings with whom his ministry had to do, with respect to all that bears upon religion. He was frank in dealing with the evils of his day, concealing nothing and keeping back nothing in order to court favor. He was unscrupulous in his treatment of his adversaries, denouncing in the strongest terms their injustice, their oppression, their grasping covetousness, their sensuality, their pride, and their haughtiness. He was sympathetic toward all nations in their calamities and sufferings, rejoicing in their prosperity and in their admission into the kingdom of the Messiah. He was sarcastic enough when the occasion demanded it. -He was profoundly religious, manifesting a deep devotion, a spiritual reverence and wholehearted 'consecration) rarely found in any man.


Isaiah's official position was historiographer at the Hebrew court during the reigns of Jotham and Hezekiah, a good position, admitting him to familiar intercourse with the Jewish monarchs and indicating that his dwelling place was Jerusalem. In this capacity he wrote an account of the reign of Uzziah and also one of the reign of Hezekiah which accounts were embodied in the book of the Kings, and perhaps, he wrote the history of the reigns of Jotham and Ahaz also, though the record does not say so. But his main office was that of prophet, preacher, psalmist, instructor, intercessor, evangelist, and apocalyptic seer. His book of prophecies is the only literary work of his that has come down to us, besides those parts of his histories which were selected by inspiration for our books of Kings and Chronicles.


Of his call to the prophetic office we have no record, unless we so regard the call recorded in chapter 6 of his prophecy. But this can hardly be regarded as his initial call, since there is no sufficient reason for his postponing the account of such an event, to this point, if it had been his first call. The reason for this vision here at this particular point seems to be that the dark picture of the first five chapters necessitated a vision of the powers operating above, just as in John's case when he had seen the great imperfections of the "seven churches" of Asia. Jesus then showed him the powers working over and in these imperfect churches to accomplish God's purpose to light the world through the churches, though they were very poor prospects for such a task from the human point of view. According to this view, Isaiah's initial call is left unrecorded, as in the case of so many of the other prophets.


Isaiah tells us that his prophetic career extended over the reigns of four kings, viz: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, which is admitted to have been one of unusual duration. We do not know how many years of Uzziah's reign it included but we have evidence that his work extended far into the reign of Hezekiah, and, perhaps, through it or beyond it. If then we allow two years for his work in Uzziah's reign, sixteen years for Jotham's reign, sixteen years for Ahaz's reign, and twenty-nine years for Hezekiah's reign, we have a period of sixty-three years for his prophetic work. It may have been longer than this but it could not have been very much shorter. In such an extension of one man's service there must have been more than what one might describe as "the happy chance of a long life," for in divine arrangements there are no chances. The purpose of it is obvious, as the period in which the prophet served and the character of his work suggest. Isaiah is the Moses of Israel's new era. This is a crisis in the history of God's people, just as at the time of Elijah and Elisha. Then the nation was threatened with destruction. So in the time of Isaiah, and in order that God's people might be guided, and that even the darkest heart might understand, the prophet called for by the crisis of the hour was provided, and his ministry was so prolonged and so glorious as to challenge and to fix the attention of many generations.


There were certain antecedent events in the history of Israel which culminated in the crisis of Uzziah. First, in Solomon's time intercourse, which had been suspended with Egypt for about four hundred years, was renewed, which led very soon to a violation of the law (see 1 Kings 4:26; Deut. 17:16; Isa. 2:7; 31:1) and was rapidly followed by disastrous consequences. Solomon lived to see his bitter enemies, Jeroboam and Hadad, welcomed at the court of Pharaoh, and the next generation not only saw a king of Egypt capture Jerusalem and despoil the Temple and the palace, but they witnessed the establishment of Apis worship over the whole of the Northern Kingdom, in the form of Jeroboam's "calves of Dan and Bethel."


Secondly, the descent from this was easy, and not more than sixty years from the division of the Kingdom, another and more decided form of apostasy was introduced into Samaria by Ahab's fantastical queen, the Sidonian Jezebel, which was afterward carried to Jerusalem by her daughter, Athaliah. This very much endangered both nations and it seemed that the hope of the cause of truth and holiness had vanished, and a pall of gloom overshadowed both kingdoms. But the battle was not over, for at this terrible crisis came Elijah and Elisha who turned back the tide of sin, but their victory was not complete, for of one king after another in the Northern Kingdom it was said, "From after the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, he departed not."


Thirdly, this easy descent was followed until the prosperous reign of Jeroboam II, when the awful sentence was pronounced, "Ephraim is joined to his idols; let him alone," and about this time, or just before, Joel was directed to proclaim that the "day of the Lord" was drawing near, and that it was "great and very terrible." From this time the spiritual decline was marked, notwithstanding the many threatenings from the Lord, though the nation was prosperous in many ways, temporarily. Uzziah's heart was lifted up with pride, which is the taproot of infidelity. He had respect toward the traditional religion, but he was without faith or real devotion. At last the secret unbelief broke out into a deed of extreme audacity, unequaled since the days of Korah. Uzziah went into the holy place and insisted that he had the right to burn incense. The punishment followed immediately and it was signal. Uaaiah was smitten with leprosy and was isolated in a "several house," excluded from society to the day of his death. Such are some of the most important antecedent events which culminated in the crisis of Uzziah.


Thus the monarch was stricken, but the people were no less criminal than the king, and they, too, must be put away from communion with the Holy One, whom they had rejected. That is the proposition with which Isaiah had to deal at the opening of his ministry. So he brought to Judah God's final offers of mercy, set before them the fearful consequences of continued impenitence, told them of the intent of the law and the worthlessness of an imposing ritual without the love of God, and he promised full and free pardon with all the covenant blessings, if only they would repent and obey. But the offer was rejected and the prophet received a new commission to them, viz: the judicial sentence, dooming the nation to exile and the land to desolation.


While this was righteous retribution, it was a measure of mercy as well. For by this means holy love was working out its gracious design. While the ban was uttered the execution was stayed by the zeal and piety of the faithful remnant, the "holy seed." Through the prophet good Hezekiah and his people turned to God with decision and uprightness and the power of Assyria was not allowed to touch Judah. In this crisis of danger, when the nation seemed to be in its last gasp, Isaiah performed for it the office which Moses had performed of old, that of intercessor, and a deliverance was granted them, second in importance only to that original deliverance from Egypt. This is the outward seal of the first cycle of his prophecies, viz: Isaiah 1-39.


The prophet shows us the world full of sin and enveloped in gross darkness, whose inhabitants are the lawful captives and prey of the terrible one. Selfishness, greed, and oppression crush the helpless. Covetousness joins house to house and lays field to field until the poor have no room for homes. Debauchees rise up early in the morning to follow strong drink and sit up late at night to inflame themselves with wine. Their fame is to be expert in mixing strong liquors and to be mighty in drinking them. The wicked draw iniquity with cords of falsehood and sin as with a cart rope. They put darkness for light and light for darkness. Repudiating all modesty and humility for inordinate conceit, they become wise in their own eyes and prudent in their own sight. Justice, righteousness, and equity are outlawed. Hell enlarges its desire and opens its mouth without measure. Even the chosen nation has become a brood of vipers, formalists, hypocrites, thieves, and robbers. Chastisement has vainly beaten them. The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. There is no room to place another stroke. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it. Only wounds and bruises and putrefying sores. The land is desolate, and the people, perishing for lack of knowledge grope and shudder under the shadow of death.


There are two facts which show this to be a remarkable epoch, whether as regards Israel or the world at large:


1. The historical event standing in the center of the book, viz: the destruction of Sennacherib's army took place 710 B.C., which is exactly midway between Israel's complete occupation of Canaan (1445 B.C.) and John the Baptist's announcement that the kingdom of heaven was at hand (A.D. 25). Then if we bisect the interval between the first erection of the tabernacle at Sinai (1490 B.C. and the burning of the Temple in A.D. 70), the middle point will fall again on the year 710 B.C.


2. This same year, 710 B.C., is also the starting point of a great political movement in the Gentile world. In that year the foundation of the Median monarchy was laid in a very singular manner, viz: Deioces was elected king by the free choice of the Median tribes, on account of his reputation for justice. This occurred soon after Shalmaneser had placed a portion of the Israelitish captives in the cities of the Medes. Is there not a connection between these two facts? At any rate the rise of the Median kingdom was one of the most influential events in ancient history. To it, in a large measure, is attributable the overthrow of Nineveh, the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus and the establishment of the Medo-Persian Empire, whose influence on the later history of Asia and Europe is incalculable.


The canonical prophets who preceded Isaiah were Obadiah, Joel, Jonah, and Amos; his contemporaries were Hosea, in the Northern Kingdom and Micah, in the Southern Kingdom. Sampey says:


Isaiah's prophetic ministry covered the stirring period during which Assyria, under the leadership of Pul, Shalmaneser IV, Sargon, and Sennacherib, repeatedly invaded Syria and Palestine. From his watch-tower Isaiah surveyed the nations, from Assyria and Elam on the east to Egypt and Ethiopia on the southwest, and Jehovah asserted by the mouth of His prophet, His sovereignty over all the earth.


As a writer, Isaiah transcends all the other Hebrew prophets. With a lofty and majestic calmness, a grandeur and dignity of expression, an energy and liveliness of style, he admirably adapts his language to his subject matter, employing striking images, dramatic representations, pointed antitheses, play upon words, strong utterances, vivid description, amplification and elaboration here and there, wherever needed. Hengstenberg says, "His style is simple, and sublime; in imagery, intermediate between the poverty of Jeremiah and the exuberance of Ezekiel."


The book of Isaiah, as it has come down to us, presents a certain composite character. There are three main parts of it. The first thirty-five chapters, almost wholly prophetic, are followed by four chapters which are historical, and the last twenty-seven chapters are like the first part, prophetical. There is a marked contrast in subject matter and style, and the different sections into which each of these parts divides itself show that they are compilations rather than continuous and connected compositions. The general arrangement of the book seems to be chronological. The form of the first and third sections is largely poetical parallelism, with, however, a freedom unshackled by undue restrictions. The book as a whole is one of the most remarkable and important in the sacred volume. All agree in extolling its power, beauty, and attractiveness and acknowledge its commanding moral and spiritual eminence. Even in bulk it is very important. Jeremiah is the largest, Ezekiel is a little larger than Isaiah, while the twelve minor prophets, taken together, are considerably shorter than Isaiah.


In order to be able to rightly interpret Isaiah the student should be familiar with the following:


1. The history of God's people in general up to the times of Isaiah. In setting forth the kingly and priestly character of our Lord Isaiah ranges over the whole field of the earlier Scriptures, referring, not only to the several books of the Pentateuch, but to the historical books, the Psalms, the Proverbs, the Song of Solomon, and the writings of the earlier prophets. So he, who is most conversant with these earlier Scriptures, has the best key for opening the great prophecy before us, and will enter with the profoundest appreciation of the references and allusions which are made to it in the New Testament.


2. The history of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, as given in Crockett's Harmony of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles (pp. 293-329). This gives the history of the times in which, and the peoples to whom, he prophesied.


3. The history of all the foreign nations mentioned in his prophecies: Babylon, Assyria, Philistia, Moab, Syria, Ethiopia, Egypt, Edom, Arabia, and Phoenicia. There may be found a fairly good article on each of these nations in Smith's Dictionary of the Bible.


A very simple outline of the book of Isaiah, by Dr. Sampey, is the following:

 

Introduction: Title, Author, and Date, 1:1.

 

I. Prophecies of Judgment, 1:2 to 35:10:


1. Book of Mingled Rebukes and Promises, 1:2 to 6:13;


2. Book of Immanuel, Chs. 7-12;


3. Book of Foreign Prophecies, Chs. 13-23;


4. First Book of Judgment, Chs. 24-27;


5. Book of Zion, or Book of Woes, Chs. 28-33;


6. Second Book of Judgment, Chs. 34-35.

 

II. Historical Interlude, Chs. 36-39:


1. Sennacherib's Invasion, Chs. 36-37;


2. Hezekiah's Sickness and Embassy from Babylon, Chs. 38-39.

 

III. Prophecies of Peace, Chs. 40-66:


1. Theology – The Purpose of Peace, Chs. 40-48;


2. Soteriology – The Prince of Peace, Chs. 49-57;


3. Eschatology – The Program of Peace, Chs. 58-66.


The last twenty-seven chapters of the book constitute one grand messianic poem, subdivided into three books, the first and the second closing each with the solemn refrain, "There is no peace, saith Jehovah, to the wicked," and the third expressing the thought more fully, "Their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh." Each of these books consists of three sections of three chapters each, chapter 53 thus becoming the middle chapter of the middle book of this great prophetic poem, the very heart of the prophetic writings of the Old Testament. And the central verses (5-8) of this central chapter enshrines the central truth of the gospel:
He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement of our peace was upon him; And with his stripes we are healed. (Read also verses 6-8.)


There are five passages in the book itself which indicate the time of the prophecies of the book in general and its several parts in particular, viz: 1:1; 6:1; 7:1; 14:28; 36:1. The first verse seems to imply that some portion of the book is to be allotted to each of the four reigns there mentioned. This, combined with the indications of time contained in the above named passages, leads to the following general distribution of Isaiah's prophecies:


1. In the reign of Uzziah (1-5)


2. In the reign of Jotham (6)


3. In the reign of Ahaz (7:1 to 14:27)


4. In the first half of Hezekiah's reign (14:28 to 39:8)


5. In the second half of Hezekiah's reign (40-66) The above outline is what the way marks, set up by the prophet himself, seem to point to, with which also the internal evidence is in accord.


In Sampey's Syllabus may be found a most excellent analysis for the more minute divisions of the book, in which are hints as to dates, doctrines, criticisms, etc.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. Who was Isaiah and what of his family?

 

2. What the tradition concerning his death?

 

3. What can you say of his character?

 

4. What his official position and what literary works did he write?

 

5. What of the call of Isaiah to his prophetic office?

 

6. What the length of his prophetic career and what its special significance?

 

7. What the preceding events in the history of Israel which culminated in the crisis of Uzziah?

 

8. What the national crisis in Uzziah's time and what was Israel's relation to it?

 

9. What the moral conditions of the world at this time?

 

10. What can you say of this period in the world's history?

 

11. What canonical prophets preceded Isaiah, what ones were contemporary with him and what foreign relations at this time?

 

12. What can you say of the style and diction of the book of Isaiah?

 

13. What can you say of the character of the book as it has come down to us?

 

14. What should a student Study in order to rightly interpret Isaiah?

 

15. Give an analysis of the book of Isaiah.

 

16. What the artistic features of the third part of the book?

 

17. What dates indicated in the book itself and according to these, what the time of each part thus indicated?

 

18. Where may the student find an extended and detailed analysis of Isaiah?

 

 

X

 

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THE BOOK OF ISAIAH PAST 2 – THE AUTHORSHIP

 


The question of "two Isaiahs" was not mentioned, or thought of, until the twelfth century A.D., when Aben-Ezra, a Jew of naturalistic tendencies, first ventured to suggest that the prophecies of Isaiah 40-66 might not be the actual work of Isaiah. Previous to this date and again from his time to near the close of the eighteenth century, not a breath of suspicion was uttered; not a whisper on the subject was heard. The book of Psalms was known to be composite and the book of Proverbs bore on its face that it consisted of, at least, four collections, but Isaiah was universally accepted as a work of one author. Toward the close of the eighteenth century Koppe, a German writer, in his translation of Bishop Lowth's Isaiah adopted the suggestion of Aben-Ezra, and thus was started the theory that Isaiah was not the real author of the prophecies contained in chapters 40-66 of the book ascribed to him. The work of an entirely different prophet, living toward the close of the Captivity, he said, had been attached by some accident to the genuine prophecies of Isaiah and had thenceforth passed by his name. The theory thus started was welcomed by other Germans of the rationalistic school and shortly it could boast of many renowned scholars, including the great Hebraist, Gesenius. The simple theory of "two Isaiahs" thus started, an earlier and a later, one contemporary with Hezekiah, the other with the later captivity, whose works had been accidentally thrown together, has been elaborated and expanded, chiefly by the labors of Ewald, in a wonderful way. Ewald traces in the book of Isaiah, as it has come down to us, the work of at least seven hands. Nor did it reach the final outcome of the separatist hypothesis started by Koppe, in the theory of Ewald. It has gone on until now they say that the whole book of Isaiah, first and last, is a mosaic, or patchwork, the production of no one knows how many authors, brought gradually to its present condition. However, it is consoling to note that along beside this school of the "radicals" runs the long line of defenders of the integrity of the book. In this list may be mentioned, to their everlasting credit, many of the greater lights, like Hengstenberg, Delitzsch, Dean Payne Smith, and a host of the lesser lights.


It is amazing to learn that, in the last analysis, the original and sole ground of this critical attack is the infidel assumption that prediction is an impossibility. It is quite true that other reasons are assigned but they are afterthoughts. Isaiah's authorship of one portion and another was, and is, denied on the ground that Isaiah could not have foreseen the events which these portions describe. This is summed up under two heads: (1) that the author of chapters 40-66 takes for his standpoint the time of the Babylonian captivity, and, speaking as if that were present, from thence looks forward into the subsequent future; (2) that he has a knowledge of the name and career of Cyrus, which a prophet living two centuries before could not possibly have had. The theory was subsequently further supported by alleged differences between the style and diction of chapters 1-39 and chapters 40-66, which were declared to necessitate different authors, and to mark chapters 40-66 as the production of a later age. It is now, as never before, conceded that there is nothing in the contention that it is a point of philology, but that prophecy does not have anything to do with the supernatural, though some of the critics state the philological argument as corroborative evidence (see Driver's argument and the reply thereto in Sampey's Syllabus).


It was soon found that the theory could not stop with the last part of the book, for there were predictions of the fall of Babylon, of the most definite kind (13; 14; 21). These then must, in consistence, also be taken away from Isaiah. But it was observed that chapter 34 had many verbal resemblances to chapter 13, and that chapter 35 was almost a miniature of the second part. Consequently, these must also be removed. Following up this method they have come at last to assign the following, to which most of the objectors agree, to Isaiah: Isaiah 1-12; 14:24-32; 15-20; 21:11-17; 22-23; 2833, and the rest of the book they say was written by four or five unknown prophets, living in Babylon near the end of the captivity, who were worthy of having their productions associated with those of Isaiah, yet of whose names and of whose existence even, no trace whatever has been preserved. A thing unthinkable!


The assumption of the radical critics, viz: that it is inconceivable that God should communicate to man any foreknowledge, or pre-vision, of future events, let us consider in the light of the following facts:


1. Isaiah did undoubtedly, in the acknowledged chapters, predict in the most clear and positive terms the future desolation of the land (see 3:8, 25-26; 5:13-14, 17, 24; 6:11-12; 7:23-25; 17:9; 32:13-14).


2. Isaiah, in the unquestioned chapters, distinctly foretold that Assyria, after sweeping like a flood over Samaria, would bring Judah into the utmost peril of a like catastrophe, but would be buried back and be overthrown (see 8:7-8; 10:5-34), the fulfilment of which is well known.


3. Whoever the writer of chapters 41-48 was, he claimed the right of speaking in God's name about the distant future. This claim is put prominently forward, is urged repeatedly, is elaborately asserted as a proof of divine prescience, and is made the crucial test of Jehovah's being the only true God, seeing that prevision of a remote contingent, future event is possible only to him who both knows, and can control, all the antecedents of the event (see 41:21; 42:9; 43:9-10; 44:7-8, 24-28; 45:1-13, 20-21; 46:9-11; 48:3-8, 12-16).


4. It. is undeniable that the great prophecy in chapters 5253 had a unique realization in the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ.


5. This dictum is at variance with the whole course of the history of redemption from its commencement to its consummation. Starting with the first promise of the Saviour in Genesis 3:15 and coming on down through the whole series of divine revelations of the Messiah as the hope of the world, one cannot escape the impression that the historical fact of the prophetic Christ is too firmly rooted in the world's history to be ignored, against which the groundless assertions of naturalism are powerless.


The naming of Cyrus was the earliest objection to the genuineness of the book of Isaiah, but there is not so much made of this at present as formerly. They say, "Of course God could have foretold the name of Cyrus one hundred and fifty years or more beforehand, but this would have been against his way of acting." Now let us see whether the revelation of a name beforehand is against God's manner of acting. The recorded instances which offset this theory are, Ishmael, Isaac, Josiah,. Jesus, John the Baptist, and Isaiah's own son. If it be urged that these are names of persons who were soon to be born, and very different from that of the case of Cyrus, it may be answered that the length of time may have been unknown to Isaiah. Besides, in the case of Josiah there was a longer time than in that of Cyrus. The time element is a very poor escape for an objection. If God foreknows an event, it does not matter as to the length of time. A thousand years are to him as one day, and it is Just as reasonable that he should foretell an event or give a name two thousand years beforehand as it is that he should announce the name of a child to be born one year hence.


In Sampey's Syllabus we have Driver's three independent lines of argument which he says converge to show that the last twenty-seven chapters of this book are not the work of Isaiah, as follows:


First, the argument from the analogy of prophecy; second, the literary style is different from that of Isaiah; third, the theological ideas differ from those found in chapters 1-39.


According to Driver, the prophet speaks always, in the first instance, to his contemporaries. The prophet never abandons his own historical position, but speaks from it. Now the author of Isaiah 40-66 alludes repeatedly to Jerusalem as ruined, to the sufferings of the Jewish captives among the Chaldeans, to the prospect of an early return to Judah. The author speaks not to the contemporaries of Hezekiah, but to Jewish exiles in the days of Cyrus. Therefore he must have lived in the days of Cyrus.


We cannot admit the fundamental axiom of Dr. Driver for it not only begs the whole question, but also contradicts the teaching of an inspired apostle. Cf. 1 Peter 1:10-12, especially verse 12. Dr. Driver's statement, though containing much truth, is too broad. Though put forward as a general principle arrived at by inductive reasoning, it is seemingly opposed by Isaiah 13:2 to 14:23; 24-27; 34; 35; 40-66. Then he says that the vocabulary is different, many words occurring in 40-66 that are not found in the undisputed prophecies of Isaiah (e.g., "My chosen," "praise," both as a verb and substitute, "pleasure," "good will," etc.). Besides, many words occur frequently, and often with different shades of meaning, which are found only once or twice in the undisputed prophecies (e.g., "isles," "nought," "to create," etc.). Moreover, certain words and idioms occurring in 40-66 point to a later period of the language than Isaiah's age. On the other hand, the undisputed prophecies of Isaiah use repeatedly certain expressions which are never found in 40-66, and certain other phrases that occur quite seldom.


While Dr. Driver has shown great skill in the selection of words and phrases, his list is too small to count for much, and it can be counterbalanced by a list of striking words and phrases that are common to chapters 1-39 and 40-66. (Most recent critics assign but little force to this argument from vocabulary.)


His style argument from the grammatical peculiarities is as follows: Chapters 40-66 employ a participial epithet with the divine name quite often (40:28; 42:5, etc.). The relative particle is more frequently omitted than in the undisputed sections.


It may be well to remember that one's style may be somewhat modified after the lapse of years, and that a polished and elaborate composition intended only to be read may differ from brief notes of public discourses.


His style argument, based on the rhetorical repetition of words (40:1; 43:11, etc.) may be answered as follows: Here again let us bear in mind the literary leisure with which this finished production was wrought out. Moreover, chapters 1-39 have examples of repetition, 1:9-10 (Sodom and Gomorrah); 2:9-17 (brought low); 29:1 (Ariel, Ariel); 21:11 (Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?)


For the items of his style argument from the literary features and for his theological argument see Sampey's Syllabus. As to external, or historical, evidence of the unity of Isaiah, it is not pretended by anyone that there is anywhere the slightest trace of doubt existing on the subject in ancient times, the evidence of which is all one way. Now, I will give a few of the items of this evidence:


1. The second part of Isaiah is referred to by the son of Sirach as a distinctive portion of Isaiah, 220-180 B.C. (See Eccl. 48:22-25.)


2. In the Jewish canon, in the Septuagint and in all other ancient versions the book is one whole.


3. Thirteen of the Haftarah's, or Prophetic Lessons, read in the synagogues on sabbath days, fesitvals, and fasts were taken from the second part of the book of Isaiah. This arrangement dates 170 B.C.


4. Josephus mentions it as a received tradition among the Jews and Cyrus issued his edict for the rebuilding of the Temple (Ezek. 1:2) after he had been shown Isaiah's prophecy respecting himself (see Josephus Jewish Antiquities XI. 1). This statement is strongly confirmed by the edict itself: "The Lord God of heaven . . . hath charged me to build, etc." This is the only way Cyrus' language can be accounted for.


5. All the Jewish authorities refer constantly to part two as Isaiah's. Indeed for two thousand and four hundred years, with one exception, no one is known to have hinted at the possibility of a doubt on the subject,


There are several Old Testament quotations from the book of Isaiah which bear upon the question of the unity of the book:


1. Zephaniah 2:15 is a quotation of Isaiah 47:8, 10. But Zephaniah wrote in the reign of Josiah, between 630 B.C. and 625 B.C., while Judah was still a kingdom. The words, "I am, and there is none beside me," are identical in the Hebrew of both passages.


2. Nahum 1:15 is a quotation of Isaiah 52:7. The reader will here note the identical expressions in the two passages. Here, as in the preceding case the fact of quotation is undoubted. But Nahum lived not long after Isaiah. Therefore "the second Isaiah" was in existence shortly after the close of Isaiah's ministry, and was recognized as a part of the Scriptures.


3. Jeremiah 31:35 is a quotation of Isaiah 51:15. Here again the resemblance is too marked to be treated as accidental. The connection in both passages is similar and the correspondences are strikingly impressive. If it be suggested that "the second Isaiah" may have quoted from Jeremiah, let it be also remembered that the "Great Unknown," the "Deutero-Isaiah" and one of the so-called "assured results" of higher criticism, has never been regarded by any one of their school as being poor in imagination, or deficient in language, but in both of these respects he has been assigned the noblest place in all the prophetic band. But the words are in Isaiah's style and the evidence is overwhelming in favor of Jeremiah's quoting Isaiah rather than Isaiah's quoting Jeremiah.


There are nine quotations: from the last twenty-seven chapters of Isaiah in the New Testament, as follows: Matthew 3:3; 8:17; 12:17; Luke 3:4; 4:17; John 1:23; 12:38; Acts 8:28 and Romans 10:16-20. The bearing of these quotations on the question of the unity of Isaiah resolves itself into the question of New Testament inspiration. If we grant the inspiration of the New Testament, then this nine fold witness is final and proves that Isaiah wrote the book that bears his name.


There are two New Testament references to the book of Isaiah in which they clearly include the second part, viz: Luke 4:17 and Acts 8:30-34. These are distinct references to the book of Isaiah as the passages clearly show and indicate that there was no thought in New Testament times of a mosaic, or patchwork, Isaiah.


There are many links that bind Parts I and 2 together but we will give only a few to show the line of argument. Compare the following references from the undisputed parts of the first thirty-nine chapters with the reference in the last twenty-seven chapters 1:11, 13 with 66:3; 6:1 with 57:15 and 66:1; 66:5-7 with 57:15 and 66:2; 2:2-3 with 56:7 and 60:12-14; 2:11, 17 and 5:15-16 with 40:4; 5:19; 14:24, 27; 19:12; 23:8-9 and 28:29 with 40:13-14; 44:26; 46:10; 59:9 and 64:4, and so on. (For an extended list of these connecting -links between the two parts of Isaiah see "Bible Commentary," pp. 15-18.) These instances with the many others cited in the list referred to, are irreconcilable with the contention for the dual authorship of the book of Isaiah, and prove beyond question that one author wrote both parts, which constitute a closely woven garment, the threads of each part running into the other, making them both a compact, literary, historical, theological unit.


Here the question naturally arises, Why were the historical episodes in chapters 36-39 introduced just here? The answer is obvious. In chapters 36-37 we see Jerusalem besieged and a strong enemy judged, and we see the godly in Israel overwhelmed, but clinging to God for help. Let us remember that the object of these last chapters is to console and we have the obvious typical significance of these historical facts. They furnish a historical starting point for the men of Isaiah's time, and a historical background to our own time, and are of immense importance to both. Chapter 38 tells of Hezekiah's sickness and miraculous recovery, which led to a political alliance in which God's counsel was not sought, and to the captivity in Babylon as shown in chapter 39. So chapters 36-37 form a starting point and a background for the consolations, and chapters 38-39 show why the consolations are needed. In the order of events here we see Judah delivered from Assyria and having a revival, after which it stumbled again, to trust in the arm of flesh and to go to the old pollution of conformity to a godless world around, which again points to Babylon. Thus the account, from the entry of Sennacherib upon the historical stage to Isaiah's prediction of the exile to Hezekiah, is all the real beginning of the second part of the book. So when we read chapter 39, the last vestige of the critics' case vanishes.


It is urged that in chapters 40-66 the prophet occupies a Babylonian viewpoint, but already in chapter 39 we have the Babylonian viewpoint. Here we are confronted with the incidents of the exile. We see the young Judaic princes, "eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon." Could the prophet stop here? Would he not have a message for Judah as it stood before the lifted veil? Yea, the first Isaiah had here gone too far not to become the second Isaiah.


And this is not all. Hezekiah has already had his peaceful end. He has received his consolation, but the people of the captivity are in gloom and despair. So Jehovah bursts forth in the opening verse of the second part, "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people." The closing words of chapter 39 make the opening words of chapter 40 a necessity. Radical criticism has never so certainly and fully sealed its own final condemnation as when it ventured to draw its great dividing line between the close of chapter 39 and the opening of chapter 40.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. Give a brief statement of the rise & progress of the adverse criticism of the book of Isaiah.

 

2. What the ground of this disintegration theory?

 

3. What the progress of this theory as it relates to the first part of the book and what sections of it do these radicals attribute to Isaiah?

 

4. How does the assumption of the radical critics, viz: that it is inconceivable that God should communicate to man any foreknowledge, or prevision, of future events, correspond with facts?

 

5. How does the radical critic theory respecting the naming of Cyrus correspond with the facts of revelation? 6, What are Driver's three independent lines of argument which he says converge to show that the last twenty-seven chapters of this book are not the work of Isaiah?

 

7. What Driver's argument from the analogy of prophecy and what the reply?

 

8. What Driver's style argument based on the vocabulary and what the reply?

 

9. What his style argument from the grammatical peculiarities and what reply?

 

10. What his style argument from the rhetorical repetition of words & reply?

 

11. What the items of his style argument from the literary features and what the reply to each seriatim?

 

12. What the external, or historical, evidence of the unity of Isaiah?

 

13. What the Old Testament quotations from this book and what their bearing on the unity of Isaiah?

 

14. What the New Testament quotations of the last twenty-seven chapters of the book of Isaiah and what their bearing on this question?

 

15. What the New Testament references to the book of Isaiah in which they clearly include the second part?

 

16. What the argument for the unity of Isaiah based upon the close relation of the parts of the book?

 

17. What the argument for the unity of Isaiah based upon the position of the historical part of the book?

 

 

XI

 

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THE BOOK OF ISAIAH PART 3

Isaiah I :l to 5:30

 


There are three things suggested by the word, "vision," in the title, viz:


1. Being a vision, it will frequently speak of events, that are yet future, as if they had already occurred, e.g., 3:8; 5:13.


2. What is seen in vision must be subject to the laws of the perspective. To illustrate: One who views a series of mountains from a distance may see a number of peaks, which are many miles apart, as one object. Thus in the fulfilment of prophecy, there may be a primary fulfilment and a long distance from that, the larger fulfilment. But they appear to the eye of the prophet as one fulfilment because they are in line with each other. A notable instance of this is seen in the case of the anti-Christs. Antiochus Epiphanes, the first one, was followed by the papacy; then after him comes the World Secular Ruler; and last comes the man of sin, who fills out the outline of all the ones who have preceded him. 3. It is, as a whole, one vision. It consists, indeed, of various parts, but from the outset they present the same vision. Though the visions are greatly diversified in size, form, coloring, and other details, they are in essential character only one vision.


This vision was "concerning Judah and Jerusalem" and yet it embraces a vast variety of nations and countries. There is a primary reference here to Judah versus Israel, but in the scriptural sense, all this prophecy is "concerning Judah and Jerusalem," i.e., the people and city of God. Other nations and countries are spoken of only as they are related to Judah and Jerusalem, or at any rate to the people of God symbolized in those names. The first chapter is the preface to the whole book, whose standpoint is the covenant as set forth in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28-32, being especially modeled on Deuteronomy 32, the song of Moses, and consists of "The Great Arraignment," divided into four well-marked messages, in each of which Jehovah is introduced as himself speaking directly to his people. The divisions are as follows: 2-9; 10-17; 18-23; 24-31.


The first message (2-9) opens with an invocation to heaven and earth to hear Jehovah's indictment against his people, and it contains (1) a charge of rebellion against their nourishing father; (2) a charge of brutish ignorance, indifference, and ingratitude, such as the ox and the ass would not have shown their owners; (3) a charge of corruption and estrangement from Jehovah; (4) a charge of unyielding stubbornness which rendered the chastisement of Jehovah ineffective though stroke upon stroke had fallen upon them until there was not place found on the body for another stroke; (5) a penalty of desolation of their land and the captivity of the people; (6) a hope of an elected remnant who would be purified by the coming affliction upon the nation.


In this paragraph we have a picture of severe chastisements, not of the depravity of human nature, though sin in Israel has, of course, led Jehovah to chastise his rebellious son. In verse 9 we have mention of the remnant left by Jehovah. This is the first mention of it and gives us the key to the hope of Israel in this dark hour, a favorite doctrine with Isaiah and Paul.


The second message of the first chapter (10-17) contains the charge of formality without spirituality in their religion. They are compared to Sodom and Gomorrah though they abound in their ritualistic service. After showing his utter contempt for this formality without spirituality, Jehovah exhorts them to return to him. The ceremonial is not condemned here, except as it was divorced from the spiritual. The prophet insists that ritual and sacrifice must be subordinated to faith and obedience. This is in harmony with the teaching of Hosea 6:5-6; Micah 6:6-8; and Jeremiah 7:4ff., 21ff., et al. In verse 13 here we have the mingling of wickedness with worship which is an abomination. A real reformation is twofold: (1) cease to do evil; (2) learn to do well. Human activity i
7 emphasized in verses 16-17, while divine grace is set forth ia verse 18.


The third message of this chapter (18-23) is a message of" offered mercy and grace, with an appeal to their reason and an assurance of cleansing from the deepest pollution of sin. There is a back reference here to the promises and threatenings of the Mosaic covenant (Lev. 26; Deut. 30) in which life and death were set before them with an exhortation to choose. There is also a renewed charge here contained in the sad description of the moral degradation of Zion (w. 21-23) in which Jerusalem is called a harlot and her wickedness is described as abominable.


The fourth message in this chapter (24-31) is a message of judgment on the ungodly. This judgment is both punitive and corrective. God avenges himself on his enemies and at the same time purifies his people, especially the holy remnant, and restores them to their former condition of love and favor. But the utter destruction of transgressors and sinners is positively affirmed, the sinner and his work being consumed. Sin is a fire that consumes the sinner. Therefore sin is suicidal. Isaiah 1:9 is quoted by Paul in Romans 9:29 and is there used by him to prove his proposition that, though Israel was in number like the sands of the sea, only a remnant should be saved. The remnant of the election of grace is both an Old Testament and a New Testament doctrine, as applied to the Jews.


Someone has called chapters 2-5 "the true and the false glory of Israel." In chapter I the prominent idea is Justice coming to the help of rejected mercy, and pouring out vengeance on the sinful; in chapters 2-5 the idea is one of mercy, by means of justice, triumphing in the restoration of holiness. The characteristic in chapter I is its stern denunciations of the Sinaitic law, while the reference to Psalm 72 is subordinate; the characteristic of 2-5 is that, though the menaces of the law are still heard in them, it is only after the clearest assurance has been given that the prophecies of 2 Samuel 7 and Psalm 72 shall be realized.


That chapters 2-5 belong to the time of Uzziah, is the natural inference from 1:1 and 6:1. The contents of the chapters are such as to thoroughly confirm this obvious view. They refer to a period of prosperity (2:6-16) and luxury (3:16-23); when there was great attention to military preparations (2:7, 15; 3:2) and commerce (v. 16), and great reliance on human power (v. 22). Above all, it is only by remembering how, "when Uzziah was strong, his heart was lifted up" (2 Chron. 26:16), and he invaded the holy place, that we can fully appreciate the emphatic assertion of God's incomparable exaltation and inviolable sanctity which prevails throughout this section.


In 2:1 we have the title to chapters 2-5 and it shows that the message is for Judah and not for Israel. In this sense it means the same as in 1:1. The main body of chapter 2 (7-22) is an expansion of 1:31, "the strong one shall be as tow." Verses 2-4 are intensely messianic and give an assurance that, amidst the wreck of Solomon's kingdom and earthly Zion, as herein described, the promise made to David shall stand firm. It is the promise of this scripture that a time shall come when controversies shall not be settled by war; they shall be settled by arbitration, and the arbiter is the glorious One of the prophecy, and the principles of arbitration will be his word, the law that goes forth from his mouth. Cf. Micah 4:1-5. We may never know whether it is Isaiah or Micah that is borrowing, or whether both alike quote from some earlier prophet. This glorious and far-reaching prediction has not yet been completely fulfilled. This is the first messianic prophecy of Isaiah, the pre-eminently evangelical prophet.


But what is meant here by "the latter days"? I cite only two scriptures, which tell us exactly what is meant. John, in his first letter says, "this is the last day," or the last time, that is, the times of the gospel are "the latter days." The prophet, Joel, says, "It shall come to pass in the last days," or the latter days, "That God will pour out his Spirit," and we know from the New Testament that this was fulfilled in Jerusalem on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of our Lord. It is settled by these words of God that "the latter days" in the Old Testament prophecies are the gospel days of the New Testament. Let us remember that the gospel days are the last days. There is no age to succeed the gospel age. Whatever of good is to be accomplished in this world is to be accomplished in the gospel days, and by the means of the gospel. All this universal peace arbitration, knowledge of the Lord and his kingdom come by means of this same gospel.


I shall not cite the scriptures to prove it, but it is clearly established by the New Testament that the "mountain of the Lord's house" here is the visible, not invisible, church of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he established himself, empowered it through the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and it is through the instrumentality of that church that the great things of this prophecy are to be brought about. This passage distinctly says, "Out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." Our Saviour came, established his church, and then said, "Go into all the world, etc." and "Ye shall preach the gospel to all nations beginning at Jerusalem." The instrument then, by which these things are to be accomplished is just the gospel which we preach and which people hear and by which they are saved.


It is here prophesied that the nations shall be impressed with the visibility of the Lord's house, the church, and shall say, "Come, ye, and let us go to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob." They shall be enlightened by the light of the church, which being full of the Holy Spirit shall catch the eye of the nations and attract them. Then will they gay, "Come and let us go up to the house of the Lord." The purpose of all this shall be that he may teach them. The church is God's school and God himself is the teacher) and they are taught the principles of arbitration.


The arbiter of the nations, as here described, is the Lord Jesus Christ, the daysman betwixt the nations. He and the principles of his gospel alone can bring about such a state of things that "there shall be war no more." The result of this arbitration will be universal peace (v. 4). This shall be a glorious consummation when will be settled by arbitration controversies of every kind whether between nations or individuals, and righteousness shall prevail throughout the whole world. God's means of preparation of the nation for the great future, as just shown in the messianic prophecy, are his judgments. These only can prepare the nation for this great future (2:5 to 4:1), the items of which are (1) the sins to be visited and (2) the classes of objects to be visited by these judgments. The sins to be visited by these judgments (2:5-9) are soothsaying, heathen alliances, luxury, militarism, and idolatry.


The objects against which these judgments are to be brought (2:10 to 4:1) are everything proud and lofty:


1. Inanimate things that minister to pride, such as cedars and oaks, mountains, military defenses, ships and idols (2:1021).


2. Men, especially the ruling classes (2:22103:15). In 3:4 we have a picture of weak, foolish rulers. Cf. verse 12. The ruling classes were especially to blame for the growing sin and corruption of Judah. They were "grinding the face of the poor."


3. Women, for pride and wantonness (3:16 to 4:1). Here let us recall the indictment of the cruel, carousing women by Amos (4:1-3), and the words of Hosea about the prevalence of social impurity in his day (Hos. 4:2, 13-14). Isaiah dumps out the entire wardrobe of the luxurious sinner of the capital city. What a pity that wicked Paris should set the fashions for Christian women!


After this blast of judgments then follow the messianic prosperity, purity, and protection (4:2-6), a beautiful picture on a very dark background. Here we have the first mention of the' key word, "Branch," in "the Branch of the Lord."


The subject of chapter 5 is the vineyard and its lessons, and the three essential things to note are: (1) the disappointing vineyard and its identification; (2) a series of woes announced; and (3) the coming army.


The prophet shows great skill here in securing attention by reciting a bit of a love song and then gliding gradually into his burning message to a sinful people. The description of this vineyard in the text is vivid and lifelike, showing the pains taken by the owner in preparing, tending, and guarding it. The great pains thus taken enhanced the expectation and, therefore, the disappointment. So, in despair and disgust he destroyed the vineyard and made its place desolate.


The prophet identifies the vineyard with Israel and Judah which had their beginnings, as a nation, with Abraham, and from the day of its planting it was under the special care of Jehovah. He always gave it the most desired spot in which to dwell, both in Egypt and in Canaan, but it never did live up to its opportunities and more, it never did yield the fruits of justice and righteousness, but instead, oppression and a cry. These general terms give way to the particular in the woes that follow. There are six distinct woes pronounced (5:8-23) against sinners in this paragraph, as follows:


1. Woe unto the land monopolies. This is a picture of what may be observed in many parts of the world today. Monopolies lead to loneliness and desolation. God is against the land shark. For a description of conditions, similar to Isaiah's, in England, gee Goldsmith's Deserted Village, in which are found these lines: Ill fares the land, to hastening his a prey, Where wealth accumulates and men decay.

2. Woe unto the drunken revelers. This is a vivid picture of wine with its accompaniments and results. People inflamed with strong drink relish a kind of music which is not very religious. These musical instruments are all right but they were put to the wrong use. Intoxicating drinks not only pervert the instruments of the Lord, but they make their subjects disregard the works and rights of Jehovah. In verse 13 we see the effect of spiritual ignorance, which is captivity, perhaps the Babylonian captivity, or it may refer to Israel's captivity already begun. Sheol in verse 14 refers to the place of the departed, the underworld in which the "shades" rested. Here the picture is that of the increasing multitudes in the spirit world because of their disobedience here and God's destruction of them, after which their land becomes the pasture for the flocks of foreign nomads.


3. Woe unto the defiant unbelievers. This is a picture of the harness of sin, and awful effect produced on those who follow its course. They are harnessed by it and rush madly on in their defying of the Holy One of Israel.


4. Woe unto the perverters of moral distinction, calling evil good, and good evil, putting darkness for light, and light for darkness. Their moral sense is so blunted that they cannot make moral distinctions, as Paul says in Hebrews, "not having their senses exercised to distinguish between good and evil."


5. Woe unto the conceited men, perhaps their politicians. They are often so wise that they cannot be instructed, but they can tell us how to run any kind of business, from the farm to the most intricate machinery of the government. They may have never had any experience in the subject which they teach, yet they can tell those who have spent their lives in such service just how to run every part of the business down to the minutest detail. But they are really "wise in their own eyes and prudent in their own sight."


6. Woe unto drunken officers, who justify the wicked for a bribe and pervert justice. When one is once allowed to look in upon our courts of justice (?) he can imagine that Isaiah was writing in the age in which we live. He goes on to show the just punishment that they were destined to receive because of their rejection of the law of Jehovah and because they despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.


The conditions herein set forth (5:25-30) reach beyond those of the Assyrian invasion and find a larger fulfilment in the carrying away of Judah by the Chaldeans. Here Jehovah is represented as giving the signal and the call to the nations to assemble for the invasion of Judah and Israel, which may apply either to the Assyrians or to the Chaldeans and, perhaps, to both. Then the prophet describes the speed with which they come and do their destructive work, which may apply to the march of the Assyrians against Samaria and the Chaldeans against Jerusalem. (For minute details of description see the text.) The prophet closes his description of this invading army (or armies) and their destructive work, with Israel in the deepest gloom, which was fulfilled in three instances: (1) the capture of Samaria by the Assyrians; (2) the capture of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans; (3) the final destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. Perhaps all three of these events are in the perspective of the prophet's vision, which constitute the dark picture and disappointing gloom with which he closes chapter 5 and section I of his book.


Chapter 6 gives us Isaiah's encouraging vision of Jehovah. The preceding section closed in the deepest gloom; the light of prophecy only made the darkness more fearful. Already the heir of David's throne, Uzziah, had been "humbled" by God's stroke, "cut away" as a withered branch, excluded from the house of the Lord, and continued till death "unhealed of his plague." The prophet had delivered his message faithfully, but being only a man, he was conscious of the failure of his message, and therefore, at such a time he needed the comforting revelation of Jehovah, just such as the vision of chapter 6 affords. Thus Jehovah, as he comforted Abraham, Jacob, Moses Joshua, Elijah, the twelve, Paul, and John, in their darkest hours by a vision of himself, so here he comforts Isaiah in his gloom of despondency.


A brief outline of chapter 6 is as follows:


1. The heavenly vision, a vision of the Lord, his throne, his train, the seraphim with six wings each and saying, "Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah of hosts." These creatures are God's attendants and the six wings represent the speed with which they fly in carrying out his behests, but when in divine presence four of them were used for another purpose. One pair veiled the seraph's face from the intolerable effulgence of divine glory; another pair veiled his feet, soiled in various ministrations, which were not meet for the all-pure presence.


2. The sense of unworthiness produced by the vision and the symbolic cleansing which encouraged him in his mission. Here the prophet acts very much as Job and John did when they saw his holiness, crying out, "unclean." This is a most natural result from the contrast between relative and absolute holiness. Job maintained his integrity until he saw the Lord and then he was ready to say, "I abhor myself and repent." So John fell at the feet of the glorious Son of God as one dead, and Peter said, "Depart; I am a sinful man." With these examples before us we may conclude that he who boasts of his holiness advertises thereby his guilty distance from God.


3. The offer for service, which naturally follows such a preparation as Isaiah had just received. This, too, is an expression of renewed courage, in the face of such a dark prospect.


4. The message and its effect. He was to preach with the understanding that his message would not be received and that the hearer, because of this message, would pass under the judicial blindness. This passage is quoted by our Lord (Matt. 13:14-15) to show the same condition in his day and that the responsibility for this condition did not rest upon the prophet or the preacher but that it was the natural result of an inexorable law, viz: that the effect of the message on the hearer of it depends altogether upon the attitude of the hearer toward the message. Them that reject, it hardens and them that accept, it gives life. Thus it has ever been with subjects of gospel address, but the message must be delivered whether it proves a savor of life unto life or of death unto death.


5. The terrible judgments to follow. Here the prophet asks, "How long is to continue this judicial blindness?" and the answer comes back, "Until cities are laid waste, etc." This includes their captivity in Babylon, their rejection of the Saviour and consequent dispersion, and will continue until the Jews return and embrace the Messiah whom they now reject until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.


6. The final hope expressed. This is the hope of the "remnant," "the holy seed." This was Isaiah's hope of Israel in his day; it was Christ's hope of Israel in his day; it was Paul's hope of Israel in his day, and is it not our hope of Israel in our day? "The remnant according to the election of grace."

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What three things suggested by the word, "vision," in the title?

 

2. How do you explain the fact that this vision was "concerning Judah and Jerusalem" and yet it embraces a vast variety of nations and countries?

 

3. What relation does chapter I sustain to the whole book, what it standpoint, after what is it modeled, and of what does it consist?

 

4. What the contents of the first message?

 

5. What expressions in this paragraph worthy of note and what their application?

 

6. What the second message of chapter 1 (10-17)?

 

7. What the third message of this chapter (18-23), what the back reference here and what the renewed charge?

 

8. What the fourth message in this chapter (24-31) and what in particular, the hope here held out to Judah?

 

9. What New Testament quotation from this chapter and what use is there made of it?

 

10. What the nature of the contents of chapters 2-5 and what the relation of this section to chapter 1?

 

11. To what period of time does the section (2-5) belong and what the proof?

 

12. What the title to this section and what does it include?

 

13. What the close relation of chapters 1-2?

 

14. What the assurance found in the introduction (vv. 2-4) and how does this passage compare with Micah's prophecy on the same point?

 

15. What is meant here by "the latter days"?

 

16. What is meant by "the mountain of the Lord's house"?

 

17. What means shall be used by the church in accomplishing these results?

 

18. What spirit of inquiry is here awakened?

 

19. To what purpose shall all this be?

 

20. Who is to be the arbiter of the nations, as here described?

 

21. What the result of this arbitration?

 

22. What God's means of preparation of the nation for the great future, as just shown in the messianic prophecy, and what, in general the items of judgment?

 

23. What the sins to be visited by these judgments (2:5-9)?

 

24. What the objects against which these judgments are to be brought (2:10 to 4:1)?

 

25. What shall follow these judgments on God's people (4:2-6)?

 

26. What is the subject of chapter 5 and what the three main points in it?

 

27. Describe the disappointing vineyard.

 

28. Identify this vineyard and show its parallels in history.

 

29. Itemize the woes that follow (5:8-23) and note the points of interest in each case.

 

30. What the coming army as predicted in 5:25-30 and what the parallels of this prophecy and its fulfilment?

 

31. What the subject of chapter 6 and what its relation to the section (2-5) and what its bearing on the condition of Judah at this time?

 

32. Give a brief outline of chapter 6 and the application of each point.

 

 

XII

 

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THE BOOK OF ISAIAH PART 4

Isaiah 7:1 to 10:14

 


In the outline the section, Isaiah 7-13, is called the book of Immanuel, because the name, "Immanuel," occurs in it twice and it is largely messianic. There are four main divisions of this section preceded by a historical introduction, as follows: Historical introduction (7:1-2)


I. Two interviews with Ahaz and their messages (7:3-25)


II. Desolating judgments followed by salvation (8:1 to 9:7)


III. Jehovah's hand of judgments (9:81010:4)


IV. The debasement of the Assyrians and the salvation of true Israel (10:5 to 12:6)


There are certain items of information in the historical introduction, as follows:


1. That the date of this section is the "days of Ahaz," king of Judah.


2. That, during this reign, Rezin, king of Syria, and Pekah, king of Israel, attempted to take Jerusalem but failed.


3. That the confederacy between Syria and Ephraim caused great fear in Judah on the part of both the king and the people. By the command of Jehovah Isaiah, with his son, Shearjashub, went forth to meet Ahaz, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, in the highway of the fuller's field to quiet his fear respecting the confederacy of Rezin and Pekah, assuring him that their proposed capture of Jerusalem and enthronement of Tabeel, an Assyrian, should not come to pass because Damascus and Samaria had only human heads, while Jerusalem had a divine head who was able to and would destroy their confederacy within sixty-five years, which included the work of Tiglath-pileser III, Shalmaneser IV, Sargon, Sennacherib, and Esarhaddon. The last named completed the destruction of the power of the ten tribes by placing heathen colonists in the cities of Samaria (2 Kings 17:24; Ezek. 4:2). Then the prophet rested Ahaz's case on his faith in Jehovah's word and promise. This challenge of faith to Ahaz is beautifully expressed by the poet, thus:
Happiest they of human race To whom our God has granted grace To read, to fear, to hope, to pray; To lift the latch and force the way.


It seems that Ahaz silently rejected Jehovah's proposition of faith. So Jehovah, to give him another chance and to leave him without excuse, offers, through his prophet, to strengthen Ahaz's faith by means of a sign, allowing him to name the sign to be given. But Ahaz made "a pious dodge" because of his contemplated alliance with Assyria, saying that he would not tempt Jehovah. Then the prophet upbraids the house of David for trying the patience of Jehovah and announces that Jehovah will give a sign anyway, which was the child to be born of a virgin, after which he goes on to show that the whole land shall be made desolate. Jehovah will summons the nations to devastate the land. Then he gives four pictures of its desolation as follows: (1) Flies and bees; (2) the hired razor; (3) one cow and two sheep; (4) briers and thorns.


Signs were of various kinds. They might be actual miracles performed to attest a divine commission (Ex. 4:3-9), or judgments of God, significant of his power of justice (Ex. 10:2), or memorials of something in the past (Ex. 13:9, 16), or pledges of something still future, such as are found in Judges 6:36-40; 2 Kings 20:8-11 et al. The sign here was a pledge of God's promise to Ahaz of the destruction of Damascus, and Samaria and comes under the last named class. But as to its fulfilment there is much discussion, the most of which we may brush aside as altogether unprofitable. The radical critics contend that Isaiah expected a remarkable deliverer to arise in connection with the Assyrian war and deny that this refers at all to our Lord Jesus Christ. There seems to be no certain or common ground for mediating and conservative critics themselves. There are two main views held: (1) That a child was to be born in the days of Isaiah who was to be a type of the great Immanuel. They say that verses 15-16 favor this view. Now if the birth was to be natural, it seems to have a double sense, or else a very poor type. If there were a miraculous conception of a type of Christ in those days all records have been lost. At least, it is impossible to locate definitely the wonderful person who was to prefigure the real Immanuel. (2) That the reference is solely to the birth of Jesus Christ. But how could this be a sign unto Ahaz? Here we note the fact that this language respecting the sign is addressed to the "house of David" and therefore becomes a sign to the nation rather than to Ahaz alone. The time element of the prophecy hinges on the word, "before." It is literally true that before this child grew to discern good and evil, the land of Damascus and the land of Israel had been laid waste. The text does not say how long before but the word, "before," is used to express the order of events, rather than time immediately before. A good paraphrase of the prophecy would be, “O house of David, I will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel, but before the child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, Syria and Israel shall be forsaken and Jehovah will bring upon thee, and upon thy people, days unlike any that have come since Ephraim rebelled in the days of Jeroboam." All this took place before the child was born who was to be the sign unto all people, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the idea of Genesis 3:15: "The seed of the woman [not of the man] shall bruise the serpent's head," and forecasts the doctrine of the incarnation, a doctrine essential to the redemption of the world. Of one thing we may be assured, viz: Never was this prophecy fulfilled until Jesus Christ was born of the virgin Mary. Of him old Simeon said, "He shall be set for a sign which is spoken against." So we can plant ourselves squarely on Matthew 1:23 and say, "Here is the fulfilment of Isaiah 7:14."


The significance of "the fly," "the bee," "the razor," "the cow and two sheep," and "briers and thorns" is important. The fly is here used to designate the Egyptian army which was loosely organized, something like the looseness with which flies swarm. The bee refers to Assyria whose armies were much better and more compactly organized than the Egyptian army, something like the order with which bees work. The hired razor refers to the king of Assyria, who had been hired, as it were, by Samaria to help them, meaning that this was to be the power by which Jehovah was going to accomplish his work of destruction upon Samaria and Damascus. The "cow and two sheep" signifies the scanty supply of animals left in the land after this desolation which was so clearly foretold. The "briers and thorns" represent the deserted condition of the country, in which the lands that were once tilled and valuable, would then become overgrown with briers and thorns.


There are three subdivisions of the section, 8:1 to 9:7, as follows:


1. The twofold sign of the punishment about to fall upon Damascus and Samaria.


2. The invasion of Judah.


3. Jehovah's light dispels the darkness.


The twofold sign was the sign of the great tablet and the child's name, which was intended especially for the doubters and unbelievers in the nation, as the sign, in the preceding chapter, of Immanuel, "God with us," was sufficient for the reassurance of the faithful. This was a sign that would be verified in two or three years and at once placed the king and people on probation, forcing them to raise the question, "Shall we continue to look to Assyria for help, or shall we trust the prophet's word about Assyria, Rezin, and Pekah?" The writing on the tablet and the child's name were identical, meaning "Plunder speedeth, spoil hasteth," from which sign and the obligations involved in its verification there was no escape. It was fulfilled in three or four years when Pekah was assassinated and Rezin slain by the king of Assyria.


The prophet describes this invasion as the waters of the Euphrates coming first against Damascus and Samaria because they looked to Rezin and Pekah rather than to Jehovah's resources for relief, and bursting through them, who had been the breakwater for Judah against this flood, it would sweep on into Judah and overflow it.


Then the prophet (8:9-10) invites the people of the East to make an uproar and to devise all means possible for the destruction of Judah, but it would all come to nought, for God was with his people. Immanuel was their hope and is our hope. As Paul says in Romans 8:31, "If God is for us, who is against us?"


As shown in 8:11-15, their real danger was not in invading armies, but in unbelief. Jehovah was to be their dread. He would be their sanctuary, their refuge, if they only believed on him. If not, he became a stone of stumbling or a snare unto them. This thought is amplified in the New Testament in many places (see Luke 2:34; Rom. 9:33; 1 Peter 2:8, et al). The meaning of 8:16-18, "Bind thou up the testimony, etc.," is Jehovah's order to Israel to write the prophecy and to tie it up in the roll for the generations of his people to follow. Isaiah then expresses his abiding confidence in his and his children's mission in being signs in Israel, looking to him for his favor.


The warning and exhortation (8:19-22) were given them in. view of their coming troublous times when they would be tempted to turn to other sources of information rather than God's revelations, which would lead them into greater darkness and confusion. A case of its violation is that of King Saul. When God refused to hear him because of his sin, he sought the witch of Endor, which in the light of this passage illustrates the operations of modern spiritualists.


Across the horrible background of chapter 8 the prophet sketches, in startling strokes of light, the image of a coming Redeemer, who brought light, liberty, peace, and joy to his subjects. The New Testament in Matthew 4:15-16, tells us that the light, liberty, peace, and joy of the prophecy were fulfilled in the land of Zebulun and Naphtali when Jesus and his disciples came among the people dwelling around the Sea of Galilee and preached his gospel and healed their sick and delivered their demoniacs. That his gospel was light, a great light. All knowledge is light. Whatsoever maketh manifest is light. And this gospel brought the knowledge of salvation in the remission of their sins. It revealed their relations toward God. It revealed God himself in the face of Jesus Christ. It discovered their sins and brought contrition and repentance. It revealed a sin-cleansing and sin-pardoning Saviour. Its reception brought peace by justification and brought liberty by dispossession of Satan. And with light, liberty, and peace came joy unspeakable.


The central text of this passage is, "For unto us a child is born and unto us a son is given." The "for" refers to the preceding context, which tells us that she who was under gloom shall have no more anguish. That the people who walk in darkness behold a great light. That the land of Zebulun and Naphtali on which divine contempt had been poured is now overflowed with blessings. That with light has come liberty, and with liberty peace, and with peace joy – and the joy of harvest and of victory, for this child is born. The coming of this child is assigned as the reason or cause for all this light, this liberty, this peace, this joy. Marvelous child to be the author of such blessings. Humanity is unquestionably here. It is a child, born of an earthly mother. But mere humanity cannot account for such glorious and eternal results. A mere child could not bear up under the government of the world and establish a kingdom of whose increase there should be no end.


The names ascribed to our Lord in 9:6 cannot be Alexander, Caesar, or Bonaparte. Their kingdoms were not of peace, light, joy, and liberty. Their kingdoms perished with themselves. But what is this child's name? It staggers us to call it: His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace! If this be not divinity, words cannot express it. And if it be divinity as certainly as a "child born" expresses humanity, then well may his name be "Wonderful," for he is God-man. Earth, indeed, furnished his mother, but heaven furnished the sire. And if doubt inquire, how can these things be, it must be literally true as revealed and fulfilled later: "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee, therefore, also the Holy One who shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."


In particular these names give us the following ideas of him:


1. "Wonderful, Counsellor" indicates the matchless wisdom with which he taught and lived among men. In all that concerns the glory of Jehovah and the welfare of his people, we may rely implicitly on the purposes and plans of this Deliverer.


2. "Mighty God" means the living and true God and refers to his omnipotence in carrying out his plans and purposes. He is not only God, but he is Almighty God, at whose command were the powers of the universe, "head over all things unto the church," making "all things work together for good to them that love God."


3. "Everlasting Father" means "Father of eternity" and refers to his divinity, whose "goings forth are from of old, from everlasting."


4. "Prince of Peace" refers to his mission in the nature of his kingdom. He is not only a mighty hero but his kingdom is a kingdom of peace.


The promise here concerning his kingdom is that it is to be an everlasting kingdom, administered in peace and righteousness (v. 6).


The title of section 9:8 to 10:4 is "Jehovah's hand of judgment," and is suggested from the fact that this section is divided into four paragraphs, or strophes, each one ending with the sad refrain, "For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still," i.e., for further chastisement. The special themes of these four paragraphs, respectively, are as follows:


1. 9:8-12, The loss of wealth, followed by repeated invasion.


2. 9:13-17, The loss of rulers.


3. 9:18-21, The devouring fire of their own sinfulness.


4. 10:1-4, A woe unto perverters and their utter helplessness.


The loss of wealth is described in 9:8-12. The prophet introduces this section by saying that the Lord had sent word to Jacob and it had lighted up Israel, i.e., this message of destruction was mainly for Israel, who were standing stoutly in the face of God's chastisements, by substituting one thing for another destroyed by Jehovah. The prophet assures them that God has not exhausted all his means and that he will use Syria and Philistia to complete the work of desolation.


Then the loss of their rulers is described in 9:13-17. The prophet introduces this strophe with a complaint that Jehovah's chastisements had been ineffective in turning Samaria to himself. Then he goes on to show that Jehovah would cut off from Israel the head, i.e., the elder, and the tail, i.e., the lying prophet; that he would destroy all without mercy because they were all profane.


The devouring fire of their own sinfulness follows in 9:18-21. The prophet here likens wickedness unto a devouring fire, which devours briers and thorns, then breaks out in the forests and rolls up its column of smoke. A very impressive picture of the course and penalty of wickedness, as it goes on to full fruitage in its destruction of those who practice it, until without discrimination it devours alike the neighbor and the kinsman.


In 10:1-4 the prophet brings a heavy charge against this class, that they rob the poor and needy, and devour widows' houses, making them their prey. What a picture of perverted justice! Because of this awful corruption there will be no hope for them before the enemy in the day of Jehovah's visitation and desolation. They shall bow down under the prisoners and fall under the slain. A graphic description of their humiliation is this, yet, "For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still." A sad wail and a gloomy picture from which we joyfully turn to another section of the book, in which we have the enemies of Jehovah's people brought low and the true Israel of God exalted. But this will follow in the next chapter.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What the title of Isaiah 7-12 in the outline and why is it so called?

 

2. What the outline of this division?

 

3. What the items of information in the historical introduction?

 

4. Give an account of the first meeting with Ahaz and the message of the prophet in connection with it.

 

5. Give an account of the second meeting with Ahaz and the message of the prophet in connection with it.

 

6. What is the meaning of Jehovah's sign to Ahaz and when was the prophecy of this sign fulfilled?

 

7. What the significance of "the fly," "the bee," "the razor," "the cow and two sheep," and "briers and thorns"?

 

8. What three subdivisions of 8:1 to 9:7?

 

9. What the twofold sign of the punishment about to fall upon Damascus and Samaria and what the significance of it?

 

10. Describe the picture of the Assyrian invasion as given here by the prophet in 8:5-8.

 

11. What hope of defense against this invading power does the prophet hold out to Judah in 8:9-10?

 

12. In what was their real danger as shown in 8:11-15?

 

13. What was the meaning of 8:16-18, "Bind thou up the testimony, etc."?

 

14. What the special pertinency of the exhortation of' Isaiah respecting familiar spirits in 8:19-22 and what Old Testament example of the violation of its teaching?

 

15. What the fulfilment and interpretation of the great messianic prophecy in 9:1-7?

 

16. What the names ascribed to our Lord in 9:6 and what the significance of them in general and in particular?

 

17. What promise here concerning his kingdom?

 

18. What the title of section 9:8 to 10:4 and what suggests it?

 

19. What the special themes of each of these four paragraphs?

 

20. How is the loss of wealth in 9:8-12 described?

 

21. How is the loss of their rulers in 9:13-17 described?

 

22. How is the devouring fire of their own sinfulness in 9:18-21 described?

 

23. How is the woe against perverters of righteousness in 10:1-4 here described?

 

 

XIII

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE BOOK OF ISAIAH PART 5

Isaiah 10:5 to 12:6

 


The general theme of this section is the abasement of the Assyrians and the exaltation of Israel, and the main divisions are:


1. The Assyrian exalted and then abased (10:5-27)


2. Judah humbled and then exalted (10:28 to 12:6).


There are five distinct paragraphs in the first division:


1. The Assyrian was the rod of Jehovah, though he did not so thinker purpose it, and threatened Jerusalem because of his successes (10:5-11).


2. His abasement decreed because he took the glory to himself and became exalted (10:12-14).


3. Jehovah's right to abase Assyria is the right of the hewer over the ax and the sawyer over the saw, therefore the punishment will be complete (10:15-19).


4. The remnant will be encouraged when they see Jehovah's destruction of their enemies (10:20-23).


5. Jehovah's exhortation to his people not to fear the Assyrians, for he meant good to them by this correction, but now he was about ready to stretch forth his hand to destroy their enemies, just as he had saved his people in their past history from their enemies (10:24-27).


There are five distinct items also in the second division:


1. A vivid description of the invading Assyrian, indicating his course and progress through the land and his threat against Jerusalem (10:28-32).


2. A prophecy of the destruction of the proud Assyrians by Jehovah himself (10:33-34).


3. A shoot out of the stock of Jesse becomes the Deliverer, the Prince of Peace (11:1-10).


4. The return of Jehovah's people from all lands (11:11-16).


5. The song of the redeemed (12).


The last three items are messianic and need very careful and extended consideration which we now take up. An appropriate text with which to introduce this great messianic prophecy is a passage from Acts:


Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said. It was necessary that the word of God should first be spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. – ACTS 13:46f.


The single point in this passage to which attention is called, is the fact that Paul calls a prophecy, that the gospel should go to the Gentiles, a command; that what is prophesied by the Spirit of God becomes a command resting upon the children of God. He says, "We turn to the Gentiles, for so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles." Now if a prophecy of the giving of the gospel to the Gentiles is a command upon God's people, then a prophecy of the ultimate conversion of the Jews becomes also a command resting upon his people.


Now let us look at Isaiah II: "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots." In the book of Job it is said: "There is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again; that through the vapor of water it will sprout and it will bring forth and bear." We have seen that illustrated hundreds of times when from the stumps of trees that have been cut down shoots will spring up and make new trees. This means that the royal line of David, who was the son of Jesse, had fallen under great misfortune and under the curses of God for their sin, and that the house of David was brought very low. It was, as if it were a tree cut down. Now, when it seemed to be utterly gone, there should come out from the stump of that Davidic tree a tender branch, and that branch should become a fruit-bearing tree that would be more remarkable than the original tree itself. Jesse's home was Bethlehem, and in the New Testament times the family of David had gotten so low that Mary and Joseph, who both belonged to it, were able to present as offerings only a pair of turtle doves, indicating their great poverty. Joseph was a carpenter and a very poor man. Now, when they came to Bethlehem and Christ was born, that, according to a multitude of scriptures which I will not take time to cite, was the springing up of the sprout from the stump of the tree of Jesse.


Verse 2 says: "And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom .and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord." This was fulfilled at his baptism, when coming up out of the water he prayed, and the Spirit of God descended upon him in the form of a dove. This was his anointing, and John says that on that day he received the Spirit of God without measure. All people upon whom the Spirit of God had descended before that time had received it in a limited degree, a measured degree) but the fulness of the Spirit's power by the anointing rested upon the Lord Jesus Christ, so that it might be called the "spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord." He himself in Nazareth, where he had been brought up, read a passage from this same prophecy of Isaiah, where the spirit of the Lord was promised to rest upon him, and declared that on that day that prophecy was fulfilled in their midst; that he stood before them as the fulfilment of the prophecy of Isaiah, and that the Spirit of the Lord had anointed him to preach the gospel to the poor, to give sight to the blind, to give deliverance to the imprisoned, those that were in bondage, and to preach the acceptable year of the Lord, that is, the jubilee year, the fiftieth sabbatical year, that antitype of the Old Testament which prefigured the millennial day, when the trumpet should be blown throughout the ends of the earth, announcing that all bondage was ended, that all prison doors were open, that all the burdens and ails that flesh was heir to were to be removed. He announced that through his induement of the Spirit he came to preach that. Consequently the next verses say that this Spirit of induement shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord; and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears; but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth; and with the breath of his lips shall slay the wicked.


The life of our Lord as set forth in the Four Gospels illustrates all that is here foretold. Never before in the history of the world had there come one whose initiative perception of the realities of things was so vast; who was never misled by an apparent state of affairs, but who looked through all seeming and all masks to the very heart of things, so that he never made a mistake. He read the heart of every man that came and propounded a question to him. He understood the motive that was back of the question, and in making his reply to these inquiries he never for one moment used a flattering term, but he laid bare the secrets of the innermost heart, and all he said was in righteousness. When cases came before him in which the great were oppressing the small, in which the rich were grinding the poor, in which the hypocrite was taking advantage of the simple, in all these cases he reproved as the oracle of God. He swept away the subterfuges under which men disguised their real nature, and unveiled the iniquity of their purposes, and no earthly position and honor, no gathering of the multitude upon one side of the question, ever deterred him from speaking the plainest and simplest truth without fear, without favor, and without partiality. The earth had never been so reproved with equity for the meek. The lowly ones found in him their everlasting friend, a tower of strength, and the exalted ones found in him their mightiest enemy, when their exaltation was based not upon merit and not upon truth, but upon a fictitious or adventitious circumstance.


The prophecy goes on now to tell the ultimate results:


The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall go to the pasture; their young ones shall lie down together, and the lion shall eat straw like an ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.


Now, here is a fulfilment that has not yet come – the prevalence of the knowledge of God over the whole earth and such an acceptance of the teaching of Jesus Christ as shall put an end to the strifes and bitterness of time; in the imagery here put forth, as if a cow and a bear should go out to the pasture together; as if a lion's nature should be so changed that he should eat grass like an ox; as if a leopard and a kid should lie down together, the kid without a fear, and the leopard without the lust of the kid's blood; that a baby, perfectly helpless, a little child, sucking child, should put out his hand upon a venomous reptile, and a child a little older, a weaned child, should thrust his hand into the den of a basilisk, or cockatrice, as it is here called.


Now, these figures indicate to us what is called the millennial times, the thousand years in which wars will cease and differences between peoples will be settled by arbitration, and according to another prophecy in this book, that Jesus Christ shall be the Arbiter between the nations, that is, that there will come a time when the principles presented in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and not the principles adopted at the Hague Conference, shall be the basis of the settlement of differences between nations. It is a long way to that time now. but it will come.


It is the logical and inexorable result of the world's full acceptance of the teaching of Jesus Christ. The hope of every Christian is turned to that time, and no matter how sinister, for the time being, may be the portents on the political sky, nor how gloomy the forebodings of the pessimistic mind, yet the true Christian is heart fired by faith and is essentially an optimist. He sees the good times coming. He does not believe that this world is going to destruction. He does not believe that God has vacated the throne of government, or allowed to slip from his hand the reins of government) but that on high, above all mutations of time and clouds and fogs and dusts of earth's battle, in a serenity that is never clouded, he looks down calmly upon what seems to be the ceaseless perturbations of time, knowing that in his own way, retaining hi8 control of every spring of activity, of every source of power and of the ultimate forces of nature and morals, he is bringing things to pass in a way that is perfectly irresistible. Every word of God ever spoken in the past, that was to be fulfilled up to the present time, has been fulfilled literally, and we shall see the fulfilment of this prophecy in due time.


The second part of the chapter, whose connections with Romans 11 would be apparent is as follows:


And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the peoples, to it shall the Gentiles seek; and his rest shall be glorious. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.


This is a distinct prophecy, connecting the gathering together of dispersed Israel in some way with that period of millennial peace and glory. It is to be in connection with that prevalence of the knowledge of the Lord that will fill the whole earth; not the first gathering, as when he led Israel out of Egypt; not the first gathering from Babylon, as when by the command of Cyrus the captives were ordered to return to their own land; not the first time, from Elam or Cush, whose kings issued decrees, that is, the decree of Cyrus, the decree of Darius Hystaspes, the decree of Artaxerxes, and the second decree of Artaxerxes, all bearing upon the return of the Jews to their native land. That was the first time. Now he says it shall come to pass in that day, that is yet ahead of us, that "A second time I will gather the dispersed of Israel from all the lands of the earth," mentioning Cush, or Ethiopia, Egypt, Persia, and Assyria. This gathering will certainly come.


He says, "And he will set up an ensign for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. The envy also of Ephraim shall depart." Ephraim, that is, the Ten Tribes, always envied Judah, and that envy had to do with the partition of the kingdom and the calamities that came upon the divided nation. Now when this gathering takes place the Ten Tribes shall this time be without envy against Judah, and "Judah shall not vex Ephraim. And they . . . shall fly upon the shoulder of the Philistines on the west . . . and the children of Ammon shall obey them." That is to say, the Gentiles shall become nursing mothers and fathers to the Jewish people, and this gathering of the Jewish people shall be brought about through the action of the Gentile nations. That is yet to be fulfilled.


Whether the initiation of the movement shall take place by England, or Germany, or the United States, we do not know, but the Word of God, which has never failed, will yet bring about a change of the sentiment of Gentiles toward the Jewish people. The reproach of being a Jew will be taken away. For a long time the name of a Jew has been a stench in the nostrils of other nations. The Romans hated him. The Greeks hated him. The Russians hate him today. The Germans hated him. The English kings ground him to powder. From all parts of the world the hand of the oppressor has been stretched forth to smite the Jew. Now it is the prophecy of God that through the intervention of Gentile nations these despised Jewish people shall be gathered together.


Two thousand years have passed away since they cut off their Messiah and he cut them off, but Paul says, "Hath he cast them off forever? God forbid." When they fell in betrayal of their Messiah did they fall forever? He affirms positively that they did not. They fell, but it was in the purposes of God only to allow the opening of a door of salvation to the Gentiles. Three years and a half after the crucifixion of Christ the gospel that had for the past seven years been preached exclusively to Jews took a different direction, and from that time on we have no historical account of any great number of Jews being converted. Multitudes of them were converted from the time of Christ's baptism to the time of Saul's persecution – three thousand in one day, five thousand another day, great multitudes at other times, so that we may reasonably conclude that at least a hundred thousand Jews were converted in the seven years lasting from the beginning of the public ministry of Christ, at his baptism, when he was received and anointed, to the persecution under Saul of Tarsus, which turned the attention of the church to the Gentile world, and from that time on the thousands of converts have come from the Gentiles. The kingdom of God had been taken from the Jews and given to the Gentiles. Now, says the apostle Paul, Is that permanent? When they stumbled that way did they fall finally? He says, "No"; that stumbling was not final, because the gifts and callings of God are without any change of mind, and he has not utterly cast off his people, but he has permitted their fall to bring about the salvation of the Gentiles, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.


But the Jews will be cut off as long as the great period of evangelization lasts among the Gentiles; just that long Jerusalem shall be trodden under foot of the Gentiles. The Jew shall not occupy his holy land, nor his ancient city, but there will be a full measure ultimately, when because of sin on the part of the Gentiles the glorious opportunities that are enjoyed today will be taken away; when we have allowed our hearts to wax cold and our faith to become dim, and have turned away from that induement of power which comes by the Holy Spirit, and trust to money, and trust to personal influence, and trust to human eloquence; when we have shut our eyes to the shining of the galaxy of perfect stars that are blazing in the darkness. Then the fulness of the Gentiles will have come.


Another result is here described: "And the Lord shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea." The tongue of the Egyptian sea is the Red Sea which projects away up into Egypt, and when, in the olden time the captives were brought out of Egypt, with the wind God divided the tongue of that sea, and they passed over dry shod. Now, something similar to that will occur in the later times: "And the Lord shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea, and with his mighty wind shall he shake his hand over the river, and shall smite it into seven streams, and make men go over dry shod."


When these Jews were approaching their Holy Land in the olden time, the Jordan was swelling in its flood, with full banks, and by the voice of God the river was cut in twain, and the people passed over it. Now, by miracles as astounding as the Red Sea and the passage of the river Jordan, shall the difficulties and obstacles in the way of the gathering of the Jewish people be removed in the later time. "And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as there was for Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt." The King of Persia gave an order when the Jews were allowed to return, that men should be sent to prepare a way for them to go, and all of the officers of the Persian government along the entire line of the passageway to the Holy Land were commanded, by money and every kindness, to facilitate the passage of these people back to their ancient home. Now, in the time spoken of here, from every land of dispersion there shall be a highway, an easy traveling path, for the returning Jewish remnant. It is this conversion of the Jews that shall usher in the millennial times.


Zechariah's testimony to this event is clear and that shall be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet Zechariah: "I will pour upon the house of David) and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication; and they shall look unto me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son." Their mourning in that time shall be greater than their mourning when King Josiah died in the battle of Megiddon. There the independent monarchy of the Jews died a royal death. After that time the three descendants of Josiah were mere dependents upon Babylon. Consequently the mourning of the Jews when Josiah died was the greatest mourning in their history. Jeremiah wrote an elegy on him. Now, says this prophecy of Zechariah, They shall ultimately be so convicted of their sins by the outpouring of the spirit of God upon their hearts that they shall see the Messiah whom they have pierced, and the mourning that they will experience will be greater than the mourning in which they indulged when King Josiah died. The prophecy then goes on to state that in that day there shall be opened up for the house of Israel and the seed of David a fountain for sin and uncleanness. That is the prophecy upon which Cowper wrote the hymn that lingers on the lips of all congregations which praise God:
There is a fountain filled with blood, Drawn from Emmanuel's veins, And sinners plunged beneath that flood Lose all their guilty stains.


Now this prophecy declares that that fountain in that day shall be opened for the Jews. Gentile sinners already for two thousand years have been plunging into its cleansing stream, but Israel standeth afar off, a people under ban, an outcast, stricken and forlorn people, the contempt of the nations of the earth. But the full tide of millennial glory can never come until these Jews be converted.


I cited that passage in Acts 13, which said that when God prophesied that Jews should become a light to the Gentiles, that operated as a commandment upon his church to preach the gospel to the Gentiles; so now when God prophesies the future salvation of the Jewish people, and that operates as a commandment upon us to turn our attention to the salvation of the Jews, knowing that that is the last barrier between us and that glorious time when the leopard and the kid shall lie down together, when the cow and the bear shall go off together to the same pasture, when the lion shall eat straw like an ox, when the helpless babe will need no protection though coming in contact with the most ravenous wild beast or the most venomous serpent, because the power to hurt is taken away from all of God's holy mountain, and the old paradise time has come back, when Adam and Eve without fear mingled with the beasts, and they even passed in review before them. The lion did not crouch at his coming, the tiger did not glare upon him with malignancy, but the fear of man was on all of the brute creation. Sin came and destroyed the majesty of man and brought about a war between the man and all the beasts of the field, and brought a curse upon the earth, so that it produces thorns and briers. Now, in the millennial times the disabilities which attach to. present life, the misfortunes which come, the wars whose thunders today shake the Orient and whose echoes frighten the Occident, shall cease. God speed that day, when hatred shall lie down to ashes, when envies and jealousies and strifes have come to an end; when this world, this errant globe, that through sin swung out of its orbit of allegiance to God, and wandered rebelliously and darkly into space, shall feel the centripetal attraction of the sun of righteousness, and by the attracting power of the Son of God shall be brought back to its place among the realms of the universe and chaos is ended, and order and harmony restored.


The prophet goes right on from chapter II into the song of the redeemed, which is a perfect little gem of literature and reminds us of the song of Miriam and Moses on the banks of deliverance from the Egyptians, or the great song of deliverance from the apostate church as we have it in Revelation. Here they sing of Jehovah's goodness and his comfort, his salvation and his strength, his excellence and his greatness. They are now drawing water out of the wells of salvation and rejoicing in their triumphs over their oppressors. That will be a glorious, good day for God's people when the Jews accept the Messiah and add their joyous hallelujahs to the chorus of the redeemed. Then will they make glad the city of God in publishing the good tidings to earth's remotest bounds. Ye pilgrims on the road To Zion's city, sing: Sing on, rejoicing every day In Christ th' eternal King.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What the general theme of this section?

 

2. What the main divisions of this section?

 

3. What the several items of the first division, 10:5-27?

 

4. What the several items of the second division, 10:28 to 12:6?

 

5. What would be an appropriate text with which to introduce this great messianic prophecy?

 

6. What the single point of the application of this passage to the matter in hand?

 

7. Explain the "rod out of the stem of Jesse" and its application.

 

8. Explain verse 2: when fulfilled, what the proof and what the results?

 

9. How are all these things here foretold illustrated in the life of our Lord?

 

10. What the ultimate results as here foretold?

 

11. What can you say of the fulfilment as to the final results?

 

12. What is indicated by this prophecy, how to be realized, and what its bearing on the Christian's outlook?

 

13. What the prophecy of the second item of the chapter and with what other scripture is it connected?

 

14. When is this to be realized and what gathering is this to be?

 

15. How is all this to be brought about, i.e., by whom and what to be one of the glorious results?

 

16. How long now since the Jews were cut off, how, when, and why and what hope does Paul hold out to the Jews?

 

17. How long are the Jews to be cut off and what will indicate the approach of the end of the Gentile dispensation?

 

18. What another result and what its meaning?

 

19. What Zechariah's testimony to this event?

 

20. What is our relation to this great future event?

 

21. What the nature and contents of chapter 12?

 

 

XIV

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE BOOK OF ISAIAH PART 5

Isaiah 13-23

 


This section is called "The Book of Foreign Prophecies,'" because it treats of the foreign nations in their relation to Judah and Israel.


There are ten foreign nations here mentioned, as follows: Babylon, Assyria, Philistia, Moab, Damascus, Ethiopia, Egypt, Dumah, Arabia, and Tyre, with second prophecies against Egypt, Ethiopia, and Babylon, and one thrown in against Israel, Judah) Jerusalem, and Shebna, each. This Shebna was probably a foreigner. He was to be degraded from his high office and Eliakim was to take his place.


The radical critics assign to this section a much later date because of the distinctly predictive prophecies contained in it. There is no question that it reflects the condition of Babylon long after the time of Isaiah, and unless one believes heartily in supernatural revelations, the conclusion that it was written much later than the time of Isaiah, is unavoidable. The author accepts it as a prophecy of Isaiah and holds tenaciously to the theory of the unity of the book.


In chapters 13-23 the prophet gives us a series of judicial acts on various surrounding peoples, each of whom embodied some special form of worldly pride or ungodly self-will. But Asshur-Babel was conspicuous above all the rest. After fourteen. centuries of comparative quiet, she was now reviving the idea of universal empire, notwithstanding the fact that Nimrod's ruined tower stood as a perpetual warning against any such attempt. This was the divine purpose, that God might use it for his own instrument to chastise, both the various Gentile races, and especially his own people, Israel. This was the "hand that is stretched out upon all the nations" (14:26), to break up the fallow ground of the world's surface, and prepare it for the good seed of the kingdom of God. Not only are these chapters (13-23) thus bound together inwardly, but they are also bound together outwardly by a similarity of title. We cannot detach chapters 13-14 from what has gone before without injury to the whole series, because


1. It is only in these chapters that we have the full antithesis to the mighty overflowing of the Assyrian deluge in chapters 7-8, and 10.


2. Chapter 12 is a fit introduction to chapters 13-14, in that the deliverance of Zion, so briefly alluded to in chapter 12, requires a further view of the enemies' prostration, which these chapters supply. In 14:2-27 we find the song of triumph analogous to Exodus 15, rather than in chapter 12.


3. Isaiah 14:27 seems to be a fit termination of the section which began with 7:1.


4. There are many verbal links that connect these chapters with the preceding chapters. For example, take 10:25 and 13:3; 10:27 and 13:5; 9:18 and 13:13, et multa al.


5. The complete cutting off of Ephraim foretold in chapter 7 requires a fuller revelation of the divine purpose concerning Asshur-Babylon, as its counterpoise and this is found in chapters 13-14.


From 14:28 we infer that this prophecy was written toward the end of Ahaz's reign. At that time spiritual darkness had won the conquest of the whole world. The "lamp of God" was now dark in his tabernacle. Hoshea, king of Israel, was the vassal of Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, and Ahaz had long ago surrendered himself to Tiglath-pileser. So the light of prophecy, with such a background, was very luminous now. Assyria was at this time at the height of her power, but Isaiah tells with distinctness that Assyria shall be broken in pieces in the Holy Land, and it is certain that Assyria received just such a blow in the defeat of Sennacherib's army.


The prophet also saw the doom of Babylon, the city which was at this time the real center of the empire. He even mentions the instruments of the destruction, commencing with the Medes, who were not at this time an independent nation. Nothing can be more definite than Isaiah's statements as to the absolute ruin of the "Golden City," which prediction at the time must have seemed to violate all probability. Yet we have abundant evidence that it was all fulfilled, both regarding the nearer event of its capture by the Medes and also the ultimate desolation of its site.


The significant word with which each of these prophecies opens is the word "burden" which has here its original and ordinary meaning. This original meaning of the word seems to be supplied from 2 Kings 9:25, where it is used to mean the divine sentence on Ahab: "Jehovah laid this burden upon him." The appropriateness of its use here is in the fact that the prophecy to which it is prefixed is usually denunciatory in character, and always so in Isaiah. It is easy to see that it here means a grievous threatening oracle. It is claimed by some that this word is used elsewhere in a good sense, as in Zechariah 12:1 and Malachi 1:1, but upon close examination of these passages in their connection it will be seen that they are denunciatory and that the word has its primary meaning in these instances also.


The reason that Babylon was given first consideration among the enemies of God's people seems to be the fact that a divine revelation came to Isaiah at this early date (725 B.C.) showing that Babylon was to be the great enemy to be feared, as the ultimate destroyer of Judah and Jerusalem, the power that would carry the Jewish people into captivity. The main points of the denunciation against her are as follows:


1. The instruments of God's destruction of Babylon are the far-away nations, which God himself will assemble for this work of destruction (13:2-5).


2. The vivid description of the sweeping devastation, which is all inclusive in the objects of its vengeance (13:6-16).


3. The Medes are named as the instruments to begin this work, and the permanent effects of the desolation to follow (13:17-22).


4. The reason for all this is God's favor to Jacob who had been oppressed by these foreigners (14:1-2).


5. Israel's parable of exaltation over Babylon reciting their oppressive work and God's intervention which humbled Babylon and exalted Israel (14:3-20).


6. The final announcement of Babylon's doom and the permanency of its desolation (14:21-23).


The prophecy against Assyria under this first burden consists of God's oath of assurance to his people that his purpose already foretold concerning Assyria should stand. Babylon in the first part of the prophecy is presented as the most formidable enemy of God's people, but it had not yet become so fearful then. But Assyria was their dread at this time. So Isaiah comes nearer home to meet their present need and assures them that they need not fear the Assyrian for God's purpose concerning him should stand.


There are several things in this burden that call for special consideration:


1. In 13:2-5 the prophet speaks of the mustering of the host to battle as if it were then in the process of assembling, indicating the vividness of it all to the prophet's mind as present, though it was only a vision of the future.


2. In 13:3 Jehovah speaks of his "consecrated ones," clearly referring to the Medes and Persians. Now in what sense were they "consecrated ones"? It means that they were the instruments of his purpose, set apart for the specific work of executing his judgment. They were consecrated, or set apart, by the Lord for this work though they themselves were ungongcious of the function they performed. There are many illustrations of such use of men by the Lord recorded in the Scriptures, two notable examples of which are Cyrua and Caesar Augustus.


3. In 13:10 there is a reference to the darkening of the heavenly luminaries. This is an expression of Nature's sympathy with the Lord. When he is angry, the lights of the heavens grow dark, as at the crucifixion of our Lord, and as it will be at the end of the world. So it is often the case in the time of great judgments. There seems also to be a special fitness in the expression here in view of the importance attached to the signs of the heavenly bodies by the Chaldeans at this time.


4. The desolation described in verses 20-22 is witnessed by every traveler of today who passes the site of this once glorious and proud Babylon.


5. In 14:9-11 we have the glad welcome given to these Babylonians in their entrance into the lower spirit world. The inhabitants of this region are represented as rising up to greet and welcome these unfortunate Babylonians. The idea of personal identity and continued consciousness after death is here assumed by the prophet.


6. In 14:12 there is a back reference to the fall of Satan who, before his fall, was called Lucifer. Here Babylon in her fall is represented as Lucifer) the bright star of the morning from heaven. Our Saviour refers to the incident of Satan's falling also in Luke 10:18, and we have a like picture of him in Revelation 12:7-9, all of which must be considered in the light of the analogue of Satan's fall when he sinned and was cast out of heaven.


7. In 14:25 Jehovah says he will "break the Assyrian in his land," which refers to the destruction of Sennacherib's host from which Assyria never recovered. In verse 26 the Lord explains that Assyria was the hand that he had stretched out for chastisements upon the nations of the world as they were related to Judah and Israel.


The series of burdens from 14:28 to 23:18 may be viewed as an unrolling of the "purpose concerning the whole earth," just mentioned in 14:26. Though the prophet stands on his watchtower and turns his eye around to the different points of the horizon and surveys the relation in which each nation stands to the advancing judgment, his addresses to the nations must be thought of as chiefly meant for the warning and comfort of Israel, which had too often adopted the sins of those whom she was meant to sanctify.


The burden of prophecy against Philistia is a warning to Philistia, following closely upon the death of Tiglath-pileser which brought great rejoicing to Philistia, because they thought the rod that smote them was broken. The prophet here reminds them that out of the serpent's root there would come forth the adder. In other words, there would arise from Assyria an enemy far more deadly than the one who had been cut off, and instead of being a mere serpent he would be a fiery flying serpent. The reference is, probably, to Sargon who took Ashdod, made the king of Gaza prisoner and reduced Philistia generally to subjection. At this time the poor of Israel would feed safely, but Philistia was to be reduced by famine and the remnant slain by the Assyrians who are here referred to as "a smoke out of the north." Then God's people will answer Philistia's messengers that Jehovah had founded Zion and in her the afflicted would take refuge.


Some critics say that the bulk of the prophecy against Moab (15:1 to 16:12) is quoted by Isaiah from an earlier writer, and that he merely modified the wording and added a few touches here and there. To this we answer that speculations of this kind are in the highest degree uncertain and lead to no results of any importance whatever. What matters it whether Isaiah quoted or not? There is no proof that he did and it makes no difference if be did. The author will contend that Isaiah was the original author of these two chapters until the critics produce at least some proof that he quoted from an earlier author.


A brief outline of these two chapters is as follows:


1. A vivid picture of Moab's overthrow (15).


2. Moab exhorted to flee to the house of David for shelter, but refuses to make the right use of his affliction (16:1-12).


3. A confirmation of the prophecy and its speedy fulfilment (16:13-14).


For the picture of Moab's overthrow the reader may read chapter 15. It is a vivid account of this overthrow and cannot be well improved upon.


In 16:1-5 we have an exhortation to Moab to take refuge with the house of David. Perhaps there is here an implication that Moab is not safe in his relation to Israel but that there would be safety for him if he would take shelter under the wings of Judah. Anyhow, there is a promise to Moab that he might find shelter and security, if only he would comply with the conditions herein set forth. But the pride of Moab was the cause of his downfall, which was utterly complete and accompanied by great wailing (16:6-8).


The prophet was moved to pity and tears for Moab upon witnessing such desolation and sadness as should come to this people. No gladness, no joy, no singing, and no joyful noise was to be found in his borders (16:9-12). Such a prophetic sight of Jerusalem made Jeremiah the weeping prophet and moved the blessed Son of God to tears. "Your house is left unto you desolate" is the weeping wail of our Lord as he saw the sad fate of the Holy City.


The time set here by the prophet for the humiliation of Moab is exactly three years, strictly measured, as a hireling would measure the time for which he would receive his pay, the fulfilment of which cannot be determined with certainty because we do not have the exact date of the prophecy, nor do we know which one of the different invasions that would fulfil the conditions is really meant. Considering the date given in 14:28 we may reasonably conclude that the date of this prophecy was in the first or second year of Hezekiah's reign, and may have had its fulfilment by Shalmaneser, who besieged Samaria in. the fourth year of the reign of Hezekiah, sending a detachment to these eastern parts of the country.


It is said that Damascus has been destroyed and rebuilt oftener than any other Eastern city. This may account for the fact that Damascus, treated so severely by Tiglath-pileser, was again in a position to attract the attention of Shalmaneser when he advanced against Samaria. In the time of Jeremiah the city had been rebuilt, but we do not hear of any more kings of Damascus.


The burden of prophecy against Damascus includes two prophecies concerning Israel and Judah and one concerning Ethiopia, and the main points of this prophecy are the ruin of Damascus (17:1-3) ; only a remnant left to Jacob who would look to Jehovah, because he had forgotten the God of his salvation (17:4-11) ; the multitude of the heathen invaders suddenly destroyed (17:12-14) ; Ethiopia's interest in these movements, and her homage to Jehovah according to which she sends a present to him (18:1-7).


There are several things in this burden that need special attention:


1. The language referring to the overthrow of Damascus is not to be pressed too far. Damascus was besieged and temporarily destroyed, but it revived. See Jeremiah 49:23-27; Ezekiel 27:18; and the New Testament references. Damascus is still a city of importance.


2. In 17:12-14 we have an account of the sudden destruction of the Assyrian army which was literally fulfilled in the destruction of Sennacherib's host (2 Kings 19:35-37).


3. There is some controversy as to what nation is referred to in 18:2, 7, but it is surprising that there should be such controversy, since the evidence is overwhelming that the nation here mentioned was Ethiopia. This is a region south of Egypt and far up the Nile. The inhabitants, though black, were not ignorant and weak, but a nation of vigor and influence in the days of Isaiah. Cf. the Abyssinians.


4. The act of homage to Jehovah by Ethiopia as mentioned in 18:7 is not given and therefore not easily determined and can be ascertained only with some probability. There is evidence that Ethiopia was intensely interested in the downfall of Sennacherib which is prophesied in this connection, therefore, it is probable that the present was sent to Jehovah in connection with Ethiopia's alliance with Israel which existed at this time. It is true that the conditions in Egypt at the time Isaiah gave his prophecy against it were not favorable. The government and idolatry were most securely established and the things predicted seemed most improbable, from the human point of view.


Then what the reason for a prophecy against Egypt at such a time as this? The men of Ephraim and some in Judah were at this time bent on throwing themselves upon Egypt for protection against Assyria. This was both wrong in itself and impolitic. So Isaiah was hedging against such alliance by showing the coming humiliation of the power to which they were looking for aid.


There was an element of hope in this prophecy for the Israelites. The tender sympathy expressed for penitent Egypt in 19:20-23 must have assured the Israelites that if they would return to their God, he would be entreated of them and heal them.


The prophecy against Egypt in 19:1-4 is a prophecy relating to the political condition of Egypt, in which Jehovah will cause civil strife and confusion, destroying the power of their idols and the wisdom of their wise, and will place over them one who is a "cruel Lord" and a "fierce king."


The fulfilment of this prophecy is found in the internal strife in Egypt during the days of Tirhakah and Psammetichus iii the early part of the seventh century B.C. and the conquering of Egypt by Esar-haddon, who was decidedly a "cruel prince" and treated Egypt with severity, splitting it up into a number of governments, yet this prophecy has been referred to Sargon, to Cambyses, and to Darius Ochus, and some think it is applicable to the successive rulers of Egypt, generally, viz: Chaldean, Persian, Greek, Roman, Saracen, and Turkish. But this is not probable.


The picture in 19:5-10 is a picture of the distressful condition of Egypt while passing through the trying ordeal just prophesied. Then follows (19:11-15) a picture of the confusion of the wise men of Egypt as their wisdom is turned into folly.


There are five happy effects of this judgment on Egypt, in stages which reach a happy climax:


1. The Egyptians are stricken with fear because of Jehovah and because of the land of Judah, similar to the fear that came upon them when they were visited with the ten plagues (19:1617).


2. Egypt shall learn the language of Canaan and swear unto Jehovah. The language here referred to is the Hebrew which was spoken largely in the country after the introduction of so many Jews there. The "five cities" represents, perhaps, the low and weakened condition of Egypt after the judgment is visited upon it (19:18).


3. The worship of Jehovah is established in Egypt (19:1922). This was literally fulfilled in the building of the temple at Leontopolis by Onias IV, with special license from Ptolemy Philometor, to whom he is said to have quoted this passage from Isaiah. Here was offered sacrifice to Jehovah and the oblation, according to this prophecy. Through the Jewish law and influence the idolatry of Egypt was overthrown and they were prepared for the coming Saviour, whom they received through the evangelization of the missionaries in the early centuries of the Christian era.


4. The consequent union of Egypt and Assyria in worship (19:23).


5. The unity and equality of the nations in blessing. This and the preceding stage of this happy effect finds a primary fulfilment in the wide-spread influence of the Jews over Syria and the adjacent countries under the Syro-Macedonian kings, as well as over Egypt under the Ptolemies. But a larger fulfilment is to be found in the events at Pentecost, which sent devout men back from Jerusalem into Egypt and Libya on one side, and into Parthis, Media, Elam, and Mesopotamia, on the other, to tell how God, having raised up his Son Jesus (the Prince and Saviour), had sent him to bless the Jews first, and in them all nations.


The prophecy of chapter 20 is a prophecy against Egypt and Ethiopia, who were the hope of Israel in alliance, to be delivered from Assyria, which the prophet labored to prevent. It consists, (1) of the historical circumstance. This is related in verse 1) which gives the date at the year in which Tartan came to Ashdod, etc. (2) Isaiah's symbolical action and its meaning (2-4). This was a common occurrence with the prophets. Here the action symbolized the humiliating captivity of Egypt and Ethiopia which was fulfilled either by Sennacherib or by Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal. (3) The reason for this visitation upon Egypt and Ethiopia, viz: Israel looked to these powers instead of Jehovah and they could not be blessed while they were in alliance with backslidden Israel. So the Lord was taking care of Israel in his dealings with Egypt and Ethiopia.


"The burden of the wilderness of the sea" (21:1-10), is a prophecy against Babylon and contains a vivid description of the marshalling of forces against Babylon for her destruction, the overwhelming sympathy of the prophets, the expelling of sensual security, instructions to the Lord's watchman, the fulfilment, and the final declaration. The forces marshalled for her destruction are the Medes and Elamites under Cyrus and the prophet leaves us not in doubt that the reference here is to Babylon. There can be no mistake that this prophecy has its fulfilment in the capture of Babylon by Cyrus. All this is because of her relation to Israel and therefore the encouragement of God's people and the glory of the one eternal Jehovah.


"The burden of Dumah" is generally conceded to be a prophecy against Edom, because the word "Seir" occurs in it as the place from which the one is represented as calling to the prophet. The word "Dumah" means silence and is used allegorically, "of the Silent Land" of the dead (Psalm 94:17), and refers here, perhaps, to the silent or low state of Edom at this time. In this burden someone is represented as calling to the prophet out of Seir, "Watchman, what of the night?" To which the watchman replied, "There is a brighter day ahead, but it is to be followed by a period of darkness for you; if you will repent, you may do so."


The prophecy against Arabia is a prophecy of the desolation to come upon Arabia and her borders, deranging their commerce and causing flight and privation, which would be accomplished in one year. The date of the prophecy is not very well determined but the fulfilment is found in Sargon's expedition into Arabia during which the caravans had to leave their regular routes and "take to the woods."


"The burden of the valley of vision" (22:1-25) is a prophecy against Jerusalem in which we have set forth a vivid picture of the revellings of the city (1-4) ; then a description of an outside foreign army threatening the city, causing surprise, and a hasty preparation for the siege (5-11); instead of humbling themselves, putting on sackcloth and weeping, and appealing to God's mercy, they try to drown care in drink and sensual enjoyment (12-14) ; then follows the degrading of Shebna from his high office and the placing of Eliakim in his position (1525). The events herein described were fulfilled either in Sennacherib's siege of Jerusalem or in that of Nebuchadnezzar. There are some difficulties in fitting this prophecy to either siege and in matters where we have such limited knowledge it does not become us to be dogmatic. Some parts fit one better, and other parts fit the other better, but all things considered, the author is inclined to believe that this prophecy refers to the Assyrian invasion.


There are three distinct paragraphs given to the burden of Tyre (13): (1) The greatness of Tyre as a city of commerce and the wail of distress for the fate of the city; (2) Jehovah's purpose to cause this destruction and stain the pride of all her glory; (3) Babylon, an example of what will come to Tyre and the promise of Tyre's returned prosperity after seventy years. After this period Tyre will revive and be of service to Jehovah's people. The first part of the prophecy fits into the history which shows the many reverses of this city and may refer to the Babylonian siege specifically. The last part of the prophecy may have its fulfilment in the orders of Cyrus to the Tyrians to rebuild the Temple, and the Tyrian ships were of incalculable aid in disseminating Judaism before Christ and Christianity since Christ.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What is the section (Isaiah 13-23) called and what the appropriateness of the title?

 

2. What the foreign nations mentioned in this book of prophecies and what additional prophecies thrown in?

 

3. What the position of the radical critics relative to this section?

 

4. What the connection between the parts of this section?

 

5. What the special connection between chapters 13 and 14 and the preceding section?

 

6. What the date of the prophecy in chapters 13-14, what the conditions both in Israel and Judah, and also in the other nations, at this time, and what the sure light of prophecy in this dark hour?

 

7. What the significant word with which each of these prophecies opens, what its meaning, and what its appropriateness in this connection?

 

8. Why was Babylon given by the prophet first consideration among the enemies of God's peoples and what the main points in this denunciation against her?

 

9. What the prophecy against Assyria under this first burden and why put in here?

 

10. What the special things to be noted in this burden?

 

11. How may the series of burdens from 14:28 and 23:18 be viewed and what the object of the warnings?

 

12. What the burden of prophecy against Philistia and how is the destructive work upon the country here described?

 

13. What say the critics of this prophecy against Moab (15:1 to 16: 12) and what the reply?

 

14. Give a brief outline of these two chapters.

 

15. Give the picture of Moab's overthrow?

 

16. What the exhortation and promise to Moab in. 16:1-5?

 

17. What the cause of the downfall that was to follow?

 

18. How did this sight of the future destruction of Moab affect the prophet and what examples of other such sympathy in the Bible?

 

19. What the time fixed for the humiliation of Moab and when its fulfilment?

 

20. What is a remarkable characteristic of Damascus, and for what does it account?

 

21. What does this burden against Damascus include and what the main points in it?

 

22. What are the things in this burden that need special attention?

 

23. What the conditions in Egypt at the time Isaiah gave his prophecy against it?

 

24. What is the reason for a prophecy against Egypt at such a time as this?

 

25. What element of hope in this prophecy for the Israelites?

 

26. What the prophecy against Egypt in 19:1-4 and when was it fulfilled?

 

27. What the picture in 19:5-10?

 

28. What is set forth in 19:11-15?

 

29. What the important and happy effects of this judgment on Egypt?

 

30. What the prophecy of chapter 20 and what its contents?

 

31. What "The burden of the wilderness of the sea" (21:1-10), and what its striking points?

 

32. What is "The burden of Dumah" and what its interpretation?

 

33. What the prophecy against Arabia and when the fulfilment?

 

34. What "The burden of the valley of vision" (22:1-25), and what the salient points in the prophecy?

 

35. What the outline of the burden of Tyre and what the salient points of the interpretation?

 

 

XV

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE BOOK OF ISAIAH PART?

Isaiah 24-27

 


This section (Isa. 24-27) is called, in our outline of the book of Isaiah, "The First Book of Judgment." In this section we emerge out of the prophecies relating to the typical forms of national life, as in the preceding section, into others of a broader character, which concern the world at large. In this we have the deluge of divine justice taking in the whole world. The central people, Israel, first, and then all the surrounding people have been laid low, and the silence of death reigns. Yet in the remote parts of the earth songs arise, songs of hope of the future glory of Jehovah, the king, as he swallows up death forever, so that they who dwell in the dust, awake, arise, to live forever. Israel's recovery is as life from the dead, to the surrounding nations. In chapter 24 we have a deep elegiac tone, but in chapters 25-27 we have the sound of the triumphant songs of the righteous. Of this section Sampey says, "Whatever may be the historical setting and exact fulfilment of these chapters, like the book of Revelation, they contain many magnificent pictures and glorious promises, and a sense of the divine presence that make them of permanent value."


The chapters constitute the divisions of this section. Chapter 24 is a picture of the terrible judgments to come. Chapter 25 sounds out the glorious triumph of Jehovah over sin and death. Chapter 26 is a song of praise to be sung in the land of Judah for Jehovah's defense of Zion, the overthrow of the proud city and the deliverance of his people. Chapter 27 is the pronouncement of Judgment against the oppressor on behalf of Israel. To sum up, we have (1) World-Judgments, (2) A Song of Triumph, (3) A Song of Praise, and (4) Judgment upon the Oppressors of Israel.


The broad sweep of this section reminds us of the prophecy of Joel. Man's sin has infected the whole earth, therefore, the punishment must include the whole world and its inhabitants.


There is a word of frequent occurrence in this section. It is the Hebrew word for "earth," here translated "land" in some instances. There is some difficulty in deciding just how it should be translated: whether it should be translated "land" or "earth" uniformly, or whether the translation should vary. Some passages seem to favor the use of the word, "land," and others the word "earth." Dr. Day in the "Bible Commentary" says, "The truth appears to be this: The land of Israel was a miniature of the world. Its recovery from the moral pollution of the idolatrous races was a historical prelude of a like recovery of our earth."


The temple congregation was a type of the New Testament church, which in turn is a type of the "glory church," and the visible king, a type of the "king of all the earth." In Israel was the germ of blessing for all nations. Consequently, if Israel's light was eclipsed, the whole world was darkened. When Israel languished under a curse, the "everlasting covenant" appeared to be annulled, or at least suspended. So in the use of this word Isaiah seems to comprehend the whole earth as involved in Israel's mission. If the land of Israel was doomed to desolation, then the whole earth became "waste and void." (Cf. Jer. 4:23.)


In Isaiah 24:1-12 we have (1) a universal catastrophe in which there is a complete emptying of the earth and equalizing of its inhabitants; (2) the causes of it, which are the transgression of the laws, the violation of the statutes and the breaking of the everlasting covenant; (3) the manifestations of it in sadness and gloom, everywhere, all means of joy perverted and desolation on every hand; (4) the promise of the remnant, which is compared to the gleaning after harvest.


Now this question arises: What the laws transgressed, the statutes violated, and the covenant broken, in 24-5? The laws, statutes, and covenant, referred to in this passage seem to antedate the Mosaic law and to include the laws, statutes, and covenant which were in the very constitution of things. Law, in its last analysis, is the intent or purpose of the Creator with respect to the thing created. So the law of man is God's purpose for man in his very being. There were statutes for man expressed in the history and covenants prior to the Mosaic code. There was God's covenant with Adam for the whole race, renewed in Noah and particularized in Abraham. It was an everlasting covenant, comprehending the redemption of a lost race. So the world here is presented as violating every vestige of law which it had received to this time.


We have in 24:14-20 the songs of the remnant in many parts of the world and especially from the sea, i.e., the Mediterranean Sea, and its isles, but these songs are ineffective in view of the awful distress upon the earth, which represents a mighty upheaval to come, before Jehovah, through the remnant, shall become the recognized, universal king. The reference here to the sea and its isles corresponds to the fact that it was on the Mediterranean coasts that the first Christian churches arose, whose songs have been drowned many a time by the din of war.


In 24:21-23 we have a picture of Jehovah's overthrow of the kings of the earth and his own glorious reign in Mount Zion, and is clearly a reference to the great conflict which will immediately precede the millennium. The kings of the earth shall be engaged in one mighty struggle after which the Messiah will be received by the Jews and then will be ushered in the great reign of our Lord through the converted Jews who become the flaming evangels of the world. This glorious period we have presented again in the closing part of the book, in the prophet Zechariah and in other parts of the Old and New Testaments. The title of chapter 25 is "A Song of Triumph" and it is vitally related to the preceding chapter as an effect is related to a cause. The prophet in the closing part of chapter 24 proclaims the final establishment of the kingdom in the heavenly Zion and now he is carried away by the sense of exultant gladness into a triumphant song of which this chapter is the expression.


This chapter divides itself into three parts: (1) a thanksgiving for deliverance (1-5) ; (2) a commemoration of blessings granted (6-8) ; (3) an exultation in the security obtained (912).


Isaiah seems to get his pattern for this song from the "Song of Moses" (Ex. 15) which contains many of the phrases in Isaiah's song here.


The word "city" in verse 2 is here used distributively and does not point to any particular city. The prophet is referring to all those cities which have been the enemies of Jehovah. The words "palace" and "strangers" are used in the same way.


The blessings of this glorious triumph of Jehovah are to be celebrated by a feast of fat things. This idea is presented in many other scriptures, as in the case of Lazarus in Abraham's bosom and the picture which our Lord gave, thus: "They shall come from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in my kingdom."


Then what the "covering" and the "veil" of verse 7? This is the glass through which Paul says we see darkly. It includes the Jewish veil of Judicial blindness and the veil of prejudice and misconception of all people in their natural state. Blessed time, when it shall be removed and we shall see face to face. The swallowing up of death here makes us think of Hosea's prophecy: "I will redeem them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction." Otherwise, this is the first clear announcement of the resurrection, and it was a marked advance on the dim light respecting the future, .as realized by God's people hitherto. This puts us alongside of Paul, and the wiping away of tears, etc., places us with John on Patmos where he saw Paradise regained and the glorious bride adorned for her husband. A glorious outlook, yet to be realized. The exultation expressed here is an exultation in the salvation of Jehovah, with the complete destruction of Moab.


But who is Moab here and why should the name be so used in this instance? Moab 'is used symbolically to represent the degradation of Zion's remaining enemies. The following are some of the reasons why Moab may have been chosen:


1. Moab sought to bring a curse on Israel by the help of Balaam's sorceries, and although these were ineffectual, yet the artifice suggested by Balaam of seducing Israel by means of the licentious rites of Peor, did bring heavy chastisement upon the people. Moab stood at the entrance of Canaan to prevent Israel, if possible, from entering upon its inheritance, and thus it acted the very part of the serpent's seed.


2. The mountains of Moab, beyond the Dead Sea, rise up as if in rivalry with those of Judah) from which they are separated by the Dead Sea. So between Moab and Zion was "a great gulf fixed," like that fixed by divine judgment between Abraham and Dives.


3. Moab, the child of Lot, the offspring of a dark deed of unconsciousness superinduced by intoxication, stands as the mystical representative of the corrupted and sensual world. Now the theme of chapter 26 is a song of praise to be sung in the land of Judah. In the preceding song the prophet poured forth his own thankfulness for the prospect of Zion's glorious redemption and triumph, but in this he represents the redeemed themselves in the glorified state singing praise to God for the same.


The purpose of this prophetic revelation was strictly practical. It was for the comfort and admonition of that existing generation. In every age the people of God must have the characteristic of patient faith and upright obedience, which is very greatly expanded in the progress of divine revelation.


A synopsis of this chapter is as follows:


1. The New Jerusalem versus the Old, 1-7.


2. The desire of the righteous is for Jehovah versus the perverseness of the wicked, 8-10.


3. The prosperity of Jehovah's people versus the destruction of their enemies, 11-15.


4. Israel's barrenness versus her hope in the resurrection, 16-19.


5. An exhortation to Israel to hide till Jehovah's indignation be past, 20-21.


The points worthy of note in 1-7 are:


1. The two cities mentioned in this paragraph are set over against each other. The first is the New Jerusalem which is abundantly described by John in Revelation 21, while the second is the Old Jerusalem which is here 'represented as laid waste, trodden under foot as we see her today.


2. The expression of and exhortation to implicit faith in Jehovah as an object of peace and confidence is characteristic of Isaiah. From Isaiah 26:4 I preached a sermon once on the theme, "The Rock of Ages," combining with this text Psalm 61:2, "Lead me to the rock that is higher than I." This is the outline followed:


1. The Foundation (1 Peter 2:6; Isa. 28:17)


2. The Shadow (Isa. 32:2)


3. The Fortress (Psalm 18:2)


4. The Water (1 Cor. 10:1-4)


5. The Cleft (Ex. 33:21-23)


6. The Rock of Ages: (a) everlasting to me; (b) everlasting for all of every age.


7. Trust in the Lord forever, for he is a "forever [everlasting] rock."


3. A suggested translation of verses 3-4 is the following: "A mind (imagination) stayed (on thee) thou keepest in perfect peace; because in thee it trusts (is confident). Trust ye in Jehovah forever, for Jehovah is an everlasting rock." A poet has beautifully expressed this lofty idea thus:
As some toll cliff that lifts its awful form, Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the storm, The round its breast the rolling clouds are spread, Eternal sunshine settles on its head.


The passage (8-10) expresses the longing of the righteous for the display of Jehovah's judgment against the wicked and corresponds to the New Testament teaching that God's people are to leave vengeance to him and await God's own time for its display. To this end we have the parable of the unjust judge, and the cry by the martyrs under the altar, "How long, Master, the holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" is an expression of this same desire.


In verse 19 is the expression of Israel's faith in God's promise, a foundation stone of the doctrine of the resurrection. It certainly suggests a resurrection of individuals, and not merely a return of material prosperity, as in Hosea 6:2; Ezekiel 37; Daniel 12:2.


The lesson of verses 20-21 is distinctly a call to prayer and patient waiting on God. The opening of the door of the prayer chamber in times of distress is the opening of a door into another world, a scene of serenity and elevation. In the presence of him who seeth in secret are the most difficult problems solved. That which opposes us is overcome by the new energy of the Spirit here imparted. Let us here listen to the poet
Prayer ardent opens heaven, lets down a stream Of glory on the consecrated hour Of man in audience with Deity; Who worships the great God, that instant joins, The first in heaven, and sets his foot on hell.


The title of chapter 27 is "Judgment upon the Oppressors of Israel" and the parts, or natural divisions, of this chapter are as follows:


1. A triple vengeance on the oppressors of Israel and the protection of Jehovah's vineyard (1-6).


2. Jehovah's dealing with Jacob a chastisement instead of vengeance, and for the purpose of his purification (7-11).


3. The homecoming of the exiles (12-13).


The meaning of the oft-recurring phrase, "In that day," in this chapter, is significant. This expression here refers to the time of God's vengeance heretofore described, when God is visiting the enemies of his kingdom in vengeance, as stated in 26:21. There is evidently a variation in the time referred to in the different instances of its use, since all the prophecies of the chapter do not refer to the same period of time. So each instance of its use will have to be determined by the context, just as in its use in other scriptures.


The meaning of "Leviathan" in verse I is a very difficult question to answer. Some deny the possibility of identification of the powers represented by these symbols; others identify them as three world powers: Leviathan, the swift serpent; Leviathan, the crooked serpent; and "the dragon of the sea," making the first refer to Assyria, the second to Babylon, and the third, to Egypt. There seem to be points of identification sufficient for such an explanation, as the swift serpent, referring to Assyria with its long, swift Tigris; the crooked serpent, referring to Babylon with its winding Euphrates; and the dragon, referring to Egypt, the land of darkness, for which the dragon stands.


There is a sharp contrast in 27:1-6 between God's dealings with Leviathan, the enemies of the kingdom, and his dealing with Jacob. The one shall be punished into destruction and the other shall take root, blossom, and bud. The passage (2-6) is a companion picture of 5:1-7, a joy song set over against a dirge. Both vineyards refer to God's people, the former to Israel nominally, the latter to Israel really. This is the holy remnant spoken of so often in Isaiah, but now flourishing and prosperous.


The contrast in 7-11 is a contrast in the purpose and extent of punishment upon Judah and Israel and the enemies of Judah and Israel. In the one case it was to be without measure, but in the other it was "in measure"; or without restraint in the one case, the purpose was purely punitive, while in the other it was to purify by chastisement.


There is an important lesson of verse 9 which is a lesson on the conditions of forgiveness. These chastisements of Jacob were looking to his repentance. Jehovah was looking for the fruits of repentance, viz: the putting away of sin and idolatry. The child's verse is, after all the best theology and practical godliness:
Repentance is to leave The sins we loved before; And show that we in earnest grieve By doing so no more.


The prophecy of verses 12-13 is a prophecy of the homecoming of God's scattered people. As a fruit gatherer Jehovah will gather them from the Euphrates to Egypt. He will give the signal of the trumpet and they shall be gathered from the remote countries of Assyria and Egypt. This prophecy had a partial fulfilment in the return of the Jews after the captivity but in this return they did not come mainly from Assyria and Egypt. There was a larger fulfilment in the gospel trumpet sounded on the day of Pentecost which was heard and heeded by representatives from these countries here mentioned, but the complete fulfilment of this prophecy is doubtless, to be realized when the signal of our Lord shall call these scattered Jews from the East and from the West, from the North and from the South, and thus assembled in their own land the veil that has so long bedimmed their eyes shall fall from their faces and they shall behold, by faith, him whom they have pierced. Then shall come the blessed time when "they shall worship Jehovah in his holy mountain at Jerusalem," a glorious anticipation.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What is Isaiah 24-27 called in our outline of the book of Isaiah?

 

2. Give a brief introductory statement of this section, showing its nature in the light of the preceding section.

 

3. What the outline of the section

 

4. The broad sweep of this section reminds us of what other prophecy?

 

5. What word is of frequent occurrence in this section, what its meaning, and what the significance of its use here?

 

6. What the contents of 24:1-13, and what their interpretation?

 

7. What the laws transgressed, the statutes violated, and the covenant broken, in 24:5?

 

8. What the contents and interpretation of 24:14-20?

 

9. What is the picture in 24:21-23?

 

10. What the title of chapter 25 and what the relation of this chapter to the preceding one?

 

11. Give a brief analysis of this chapter.

 

12. Where does Isaiah seem to get his pattern for this song and what the proof?

 

13. What city is referred to in verse 2?

 

14. How are the blessings of this glorious triumph of Jehovah to bo celebrated?

 

15. What the "covering" and the "veil" of verse 7?

 

16. What announcement here as to the resurrection and further blessedness?

 

17. How is the exultation expressed?

 

18. Who is Moab here and why should the name be so used in this instance?

 

19. What the theme of chapter 26?

 

20. What the character of this son in contrast with the preceding one?

 

21. What the purpose of this prophetic revelation?

 

22. Give a synopsis of this chapter.

 

23. What the points worthy of note in 1-7?

 

24. What is expressed in 8-10?

 

25. What is suggested by verse 19?

 

26. What the lesson of verses 20-21?

 

27. What the title of chapter 27?

 

28. What the parts, or natural divisions, of this chapter?

 

29. What the meaning of the oft-occurring phrase, "In that day," in this chapter?

 

30. What is the meaning of "Leviathan" in verse 1?

 

31. What the contrast in 27:1-6?

 

32. What the contrast in 7-11?

 

33. What the important lesson of verse 9?

 

34. What the prophecy of verses 12-13 and when the complete fulfilment of it?

 

 

XVI

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE BOOK OF ISAIAH PART 8 Isaiah 28-33

 


"This section, Isaiah 28-33, is called "The Book of Zion," or "The Book of Woes." The time of this prophecy is the reign of Hezekiah. In the preceding section the prophet contemplated the judgments which were to come in the course of the ages, upon the nations of the world, but in this section he is brought back to his own time and people.


Quite a long time has elapsed since the prophet first foretold the destruction of Samaria (7:17; 8:4-8), but the crisis is now close at hand. The northern invaders who have been held back by the divine order so long, are now ready to be let loose, and the "crown of Ephraim's pride" is about to be buried to the ground. At this solemn period a most important work must be accomplished in Judah, if Jerusalem is to be saved from Assyria. This must be a religious and moral preparation for a divine intervention, which was necessary for her salvation. This indeed had been begun by Hezekiah but it would not prove permanent unless followed up by a steady culture and patient discipline. This was now the task of Isaiah, the prophet. In order to do this he must alarm the "sinners of Zion," reprove the infidel, stir up the worldly and careless to repentance, assure the men of Judah, who trusted in their political schemes of alliance with Egypt, that God would bring their schemes to nought, all this without unduly disheartening the poor and the meek. On the other hand, the faithful disciples were to be cheered. They were to be told that their hope was in the stone which Jehovah had laid in Zion; that Jehovah himself would defend Jerusalem; that the Holy City should be as & tabernacle whose stakes should be secure, and all this without fostering a reliance upon external privileges. This was no mean task, but the prophet rose to the demand of the hour. The prophetic word went forth, giving warning to the rebellious, confirming and establishing the true hearts, and putting all on probation.


The word which determines the natural divisions of this section is "Woe," which occurs at 28:1; 29:1; 29:15; 30:1; 31:1 and 33:1. The divisions are as follows:


1. Woe unto Samaria (28)


2. Woe unto Ariel [Jerusalem] (29:1-14)


3. Woe unto the worldly-wise (29:15-24)


4. Woe unto the rebellious (30)


5. Woe unto them that go down to Egypt (31-32)


6. Woe unto the destroyer (33)


This outline does not coincide with Dr. Sampey's, but it has the merit of following the author's divisions rather than the chapter divisions.


In 28:1-6 we have the woe unto Samaria, "the crown of the pride of the drunkards of Ephraim." This is a solemn warning to Samaria of her speedy downfall. Then the prophet turns to Judah and pronounces the woe upon Jerusalem because she has followed the example of Samaria. This he gives in a series of pictures: In 7-8 we have the drunken priests and prophets, revelling in their self-indulgence and failing in their visions and judgments. In 9-10 we hear them mocking Isaiah in his message, saying, "His words are but repetitions, suited to sucking babes." "For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line; here a little, there a little." Then in 11-13 the prophet retorts that God would speak to them by men of strange lips, the Assyrians, because he had offered them rest and they would not hear. So now the words of Jehovah would be to them, "precept upon precept," etc., that they might be broken, snared, and taken. In 14-22 there is a severe arraignment of the rulers of Jerusalem, who had made, or were about to make, secret arrangements with Egypt which, as they thought, would secure Judah against injury at the hands of the Assyrians. This the prophet calls a covenant with death and an agreement with Sheol, and instructs them that their boasted arrangements would fail completely in the time of trial; that Egypt, their refuge would be a refuge of lies and Assyria, the overflowing scourge, would pass through the land and carry all before it; that only those resting on the precious cornerstone would be secure; that in the time of this vexation of the land, their bed which they made would not suffice, for the decree of destruction had already gone forth. In 23-29 is a parable to comfort believers, to the end that God's wisdom in dispensing judgment and mercy may be inferred from the skill which he gives to the husbandman. But this he left to their spiritual insight to discover.


Two passages of this chapter are quoted in the New Testament:


1. Verse 11 is quoted by Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:21 to show that the gifts of the baptism of the Spirit, just as the work and message of the prophet, were for a sign.


2. Verse 16 is quoted in several places in the New Testament and applied to Christ, as the stone of stumbling for the Jews in all ages.


Verse 20 may be used in accordance with the context here to show how futile it is for a man to turn away from God's plan, in the matters of salvation, to the devices of men. When the testing time comes, the bed is found to be too short and the covering too narrow.


In 29:1-4 we have the prophet's address to Ariel (Jerusalem) in which he predicts her siege by a terrible army and her great humiliation during that siege. In 5-8 is the vivid description of this vast host coming up against Jerusalem, but just as the enemy expects to capture her, the host of them is scattered. As it is with one who dreams, so shall it be with this multitude of besiegers. In 9-12 is a description of Israel's awful judicial blindness visited upon them by Jehovah because of their sins. All prophecy is to them as a sealed book. In their blindness they cannot read the message. What a picture of the effects of sin! This reminds us of the picture of Jerusalem which was drawn by Christ. The natural man cannot understand divine revelation. The educated and the uneducated are alike helpless. Over against this stands the contrast of verse 18. In 13-14 we have the cause stated. They are in this state because of the condition of their hearts. With the lips they honored God, but their hearts were not with him. How significant is the application of this truth to all our worship and service! In 17-21 is the prophecy that this condition shall not always pertain to them. The day will come when this condition shall be reversed. The deaf shall hear the words out of the book and the blind shall see. To many this was fulfilled in the days of Christ, but we look ahead of us for the full fruitage of this great promise. In 22-24 is the climax of the vision in which the marvels of God's grace upon the sons of Jacob are exhibited. God speed the day of its realization!


The prophetic description here (1-8) fits well the historical events of Sennacherib's siege and the poem, "The Destruction of Sennacherib" by Byron is the best poetic description of this event. Two passages from this chapter are quoted in the New Testament:


1. Verse 10 is quoted by Paul in Romans 11:8 where it is used to show the judicial hardening of Israel which lasted to Paul's day and will continue till the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.


2. Verse 13 is quoted by our Lord in Matthew 15:8-9 to upbraid the Jews for their hypocrisy and following the commandments of men, showing that the conditions which existed in Isaiah's time existed also in Christ's time.


Chapter 30 consists of an exposure of the alliance with Egypt. In 1-5 we have the plain prediction that the alliance with Egypt, then forming, would be of no assistance to Judah. The prophet in 6-17 states the oracle with great power, showing the sin and evil effects of trusting in Egypt rather than in Jehovah. In 18-26 there is set forth the hope of the future success of God's people when he shall be gracious to them and confer upon them marvelous prosperity. In 27-33 we have another vision of the supernatural overthrow of the Assyrians.


In verse 33 we have the image of a funeral pyre on which the king of Assyria is to be consumed. Topheth was a place in the valley of Hinnom, that was desecrated by idolatrous human sacrifices (Jer. 7:31; 1 Kings 23:10). This was fulfilled, not by the death of Sennacherib in Judah, but by the destruction of his army there, and his own death at home twenty years later (881 B.C).


Chapter 31 is a brief summary of what has been so frequently set forth about Samaria, Jerusalem, and Assyria. The points are as follows: (1) Those who trust in the Egyptian alliance shall fall; '(2) Jerusalem shall be protected by divine love; (3) the Assyrian shall be driven away in terror. In verses 4-5 Jehovah represents himself as a lion and a mother bird, a picture of his power and tenderness.


By all scholars Isaiah 32 is accounted messianic. It must be considered as a whole in order to understand its parts. It tells us under what king justice shall be rendered in human government, and what influences shall bring about an appreciation of this justice in the hearts of the people, and what shall be the effects of the righteousness rendered by this government and appreciated by these people under this divine influence.


The righteous King is our Lord Jesus Christ, the true Governor of this world. "A king shall reign in righteousness." We have never yet on this earth been blessed with a perfect human government. We do not know experimentally what a genuinely good government is, whose ruler rules according to principles of exact righteousness and uses his office for the benefit of the governed, and to subserve the ends of justice; nor have we ever seen a people whose hearts would properly appreciate that kind of a government, who really desire it or who are willing to work for it and willing to submit to it. The conditions call for a righteous King and righteous subjects. Granted these two and the effect is righteousness, peace, and confidence forever.


We may conceive in our minds of an ideal king whose scepter is a righteous scepter, who loves righteousness and hates iniquity, who holds an even balance when he administers justice, who has no respect to men's persons, who is a terror to evildoers and as the shadow of a high rock in a weary land to the oppressed. We may conceive of such a ruler, but in earthly governments, we have never known him. We may conceive of a people in their hearts desiring such a government, voting for it, supporting it, on demand sacrificing whatever they have to its maintenance, and then joyfully resting under its benign influence. What a sweet picture to the contemplative mind! Such a king, such a people, and peace and quiet throughout the land, perfect confidence, no doors locked at night, no hired policemen, no standing armies, no dread of burglars or assassins, no distrust in business, engagements, perfect confidence! It is a charming conception. God's Word declares that this conception shall be realized on this earth; that "a king shall reign in righteousness, and all of the rulers shall rule in judgment."


The influence that prepares the people for that kind of a government is here distinctly set forth. It is said that "thorns and briers shall come up on the land of my people until the spirit be poured out from on high." Without the influence of God's Spirit the people themselves are not prepared for a righteous administration of affairs. They have what they want. If they wish to promote the wicked they promote them. If they wish to be placed in bondage to the covetous they yield their necks to the yoke. The people are not prepared for good government. And what things disqualify them for living and working for such a government? We get at the disqualifications by ascertaining from this chapter what the blessings are which the Spirit confers by way of preparation.


The first blessing specified is that under the influence of the Spirit they shall see clearly: "the eyes of them that see shall not be dim." This refers to the moral perceptions. Where there are no clear perceptions of right or wrong, where the vision is clouded, everything else will be wrong. If the moral sense of the people be distorted in vision, it will see light as if it were darkness, and darkness as if it were light; it will call a churl a liberal man, and a liberal man a churl; it will label things contrary to their essence and nature. If the eye be not single our very light is darkness, and how great is that darkness! So that we have as the first effect of the Spirit poured out on the people, that they shall see clearly.


It is now painful and humiliating, distressingly so, to get any ten or twelve men or women together and submit for their consideration a question involving morals, and see how variously they look at it. They do not see clearly. And particularly they do not see clearly with reference to the outcome of things. They look at immediate results. They look at present effects. They judge of things by what may immediately follow their performance. They do not project their vision far enough, and they are unable to do it on account of their moral blindness. So the prophet in the middle of this chapter calls on the women to hear his discussion. We do well to recall the words of the apostle Peter concerning the Christian graces, the fruits of the Spirit:


For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins" – 2 PETER 1:8-9.


Yes, he that lacketh these things is dim-eyed. His vision will be blurred. He cannot see things afar off. First of all, therefore the outpoured Spirit enlightens the eye, the moral eye. It makes us see things as they are in the sight of God. If a man is a miser, a covetous man, a churl, we see him to be that way. He appears so to us. He does not seem to be a liberal man. Oh, when the Spirit is poured out then no longer will the liberal man be called a churl and the churl a liberal man. There are examples that may be known and read of all men in every community, of those whose hearts are as hard as a millstone, hearts that have never been melted, never known any mercy, never felt one heartthrob of joy in ministering to the necessities of the distressed, and yet the community stands off and bows before them, and calls them the liberal men of the community. When the Spirit of God is poured out, clearness of vision will be given, and men will see a soul just as easily as they can see a body and the soul that is black will look black, the soul that is shriveled and miserly will look so, and the soul that is slimy and obscene and foul will appear to be so. That is the first effect. Now if people have not that vision, how can they love a righteous king? How can they love a righteous government? How can they desire evenhanded justice? How can they wish to be rid of favoritism, nepotism, and every other form of mischief in government, seeing their eyes are dim and their vision distorted? Clear vision distorted! Clear vision, that is first. They shall see clearly.


The second effect of the out-poured Spirit is, "The ears of them that hear shall hearken." They shall hear distinctly and see clearly. To hear distinctly! You know there is such a thing as hearing and not hearing, "having ears to hear and hearing not," what is called in the Bible an "uncircumcised ear." An ear that does not hearken to what? To the divine voices, to the voice of wisdom speaking on the streets, speaking in places of business, speaking in places of pleasure, speaking in the family circle, speaking in the church and in the Sunday school, the voice of God. The whole earth is filled with the voices of God. As the psalmist says:
There is no speech nor language; Where their voice is not heard. There line is gone out through all the earth; And their words to the end of the world.– PSALM 19:3-4.


But if the people have not a hearing ear what matters it about a voice? "Incline your ear and come unto me. Hear and your soul shall live," exhorts the prophet. The giving heed to the monitions of God's Spirit, to the declarations of his Word, the submitting to the voice of God as the end of controversy, we must have that, to see clearly, to hear distinctly. The right kind of a conscience will hear the faintest whisper of God. God will not have to speak aloud. God will not have to send storms and earthquakes and pestilence and famine and blasting and mildew and other judgments to secure attention. If they have the hearing ear, though God speaks in the stillness of the night, that ear hears his whisper, and like a little Samuel rising up from his bed, saying, "Speak Lord, thy servant heareth."


Oh, for the ear that will hearken to God's Word, to righteousness. The evil-minded may devise a most mischievous falsehood, a shameful, sensational scandal, without the shadow of foundation in fact, and then with tongue set on fire of hell whisper his story of malice and, behold, the whole earth hears it. They have the ear set for hearing such things. But the good deed has no sound, seems to create no air waves, attains to no publicity. No wonder Paul said, "Whatsoever things are good, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are of good report, think on these things." But they do not hear them. To get an audience, to come within the range of the ear of the world, speech must have a different character.


The third effect of the Spirit is "the heart of the rash [the hasty] shall understand." That means to choose wisely. And what a blundering world this is, as to the choices made! All the time going to the forks of the road, so many times taking the wrong road, so many times preferring the worse to better things, so many times electing that which will bring shame instead of that which will bring honor. Every day there are put out before men and women multitudes of things from which to make a selection. Which will you take? And just see how they do take the poisons, how they take the rubbish, and the degraded, and that which tends downward, and that which debases. Oh, for choice God-guided! And that must come to the people. The hasty! Yes, when Spirit-guided the hasty need never apologize, thus: "I beg your pardon. I was inconsiderate. I acted unthoughtedly. I was indiscreet in that." If we had the clear vision, if we had the hearing ear, then could we decide quickly on a moral question, and decide right. Even the heart of the hasty would be able to understand.


The fourth blessing is to speak plainly. What does the record say? "The tongue of the stammerer shall speak plainly." Now, it is a somewhat ludicrous conception, and yet it does present the truth in a very striking manner. In a time or urgency, where one needs an utterance at once, and clean-cut, how a sharp question confounds a stammering man! It throws him into a fit of agitation. He tries to say something and stammers and stutters, and every kind of an answer seems hanging on the end of his tongue, and he cannot say anything. So there are moral stammerers. Ask him, "How do you stand on this question?" and he begins to stammer at once. It distresses one to listen. We feel like crying out: "Oh, speak plainly! Tell where you are. Don't stutter all over a world of morals. Do gay one plain, straight-out word." We are cursed with moral stuttering.


The church is cursed with it. Try some time to find out the attitude of even God's people on a perfectly plain question of morals, or of doctrine, or of practical righteousness, and hear them begin to answer, "Well, I don't know. Some people think it is this, and some people think it is that." And thus they go limping around, stuttering over it. Do we not know that if the Spirit of God was poured out to give us clear moral vision, so that we could see things as they are, and the hearkening ear, so that God's whisper would be louder to us than the devil's thunder – do not we know that if we had that wiseness of heart to choose as quick as lightning between good and evil, that there would not be any stuttering speech? A man would speak right up and Bay: "Here is where I stand; let there be no mistake about it."


We have found the effects of the outpoured Spirit to be clear vision, acute hearing, wise choice, and plain talk. But work follows qualification. The outpoured Spirit exhorts: "Sow beside all waters." The "sowing beside the waters" refers to that planting of rice and wheat in the overflowed waters, as in the overflow of the Nile. They go out in boats when the water covers the whole surface of the country, and they sow it down – "cast your bread upon the waters," i.e., your bread seed. And then they bring the cattle, and drive them up and down, tramping the seed down in the slime so that when the waters recede it has been plowed under by the feet of the stock.


"Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters, driving thither the feet of the ox and of the ass." That simply means covering it under. "Cast your bread upon the waters." A distant blessing then that cornea from the outpouring of the Spirit in this ideal government set forth in this prophecy will be that every piece of land fertile enough to grow grain will be sowed down with grain. "Sow beside all waters," that is, cast your seed on every spot of earth that can sprout the seed and make it bear a crop.


To bring the thought a little more closely: Where we have a righteous king, and a people who are endowed with clear vision, hearing distinctly, choosing wisely, and speaking plainly, these people will occupy every foot of ground which God commands them to occupy. They will let no spot of earth remain without a crop, if it can bear a crop.


But look at society as it stands, even Christian societies! You say, "Here is water out here. God has sent the overflow laden with rich soil in solution, which the receding waves deposit. Come, let us sow seed by that water." "No, no; I have my little pond here at home. I must sow in this home pond, this and this only. I will not sow out yonder. Let the waves come and deposit the fertile soil, and the earth wait expectantly for seed to be deposited in its glowing bosom, ready of itself to make it send up the ripening grain that shall bless the earth with bread, all in vain. I won't sow out there."


What a miserable Christian! What an infinitesimal soul that man has! God brings soil for bread seed, and says, "Go forth, bearing precious seed; go forth casting your bread seed upon the waters; sow beside all waters," and the delinquent church says, "I cannot hear that; I cannot hear that now. We have heathen at home – the Greeks are at our door. I don't believe in sowing in waters that are far off." No, and he doesn't believe in sowing in them at home. That is nearer the truth. He does not believe in any sowing at all. The root -of the matter is not in him. The spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ doesn't reign in his soul; for where the spirit is poured out from on high, and they have the vision of clearness, and the hearkening ear, the wise choice, and the unstammering tongue, they will not stop to consider the clouds. They will not stop to ask whether this or that shall prosper. They will not stop to talk about the narrow circumference of their own field, but they will say, "Lord God, let me send out thy word wherever hearts are hungering and souls are in bondage; wherever the devil throws his black pall of midnight and superstition over the hearts and souls of the people. Oh, God, let me by thy grace send them light to shine in the darkness! Oh, let me hold up my light higher and throw its radiance farther." That is the spirit of the Christian. "Sow beside all waters."


A final fruit of the spirit is: The liberal deviseth liberal things, and in liberal things shall he continue. "Ye did run well for a season," says Paul. What hindered you? Why did you stop? What warranted it? Has God's plan been modified? Have Christ's desires abated? Is heaven full? Is the ground of salvation all pre-empted? Are the corridors of deliverance crowded so that there is no room for another one? Is Jesus Christ satisfied? Has he seen all of the travail of his soul that he wanted to see? No. There is room yet; the desire of God for human salvation is unabated; the needs of the lost are increased; the hell that threatens them is nearer to them. Oh, it is near. The damnation is not lingering. It is coming stealthily as the footfall of a tiger, or the spread of a pestilence, but coming nearer and deadlier than before, and we say, "Let us call a halt in liberal things."


"Thorns and briers shall come up on the land of my people until the spirit be poured out from on high." But if the spirit be poured out from on high, and we see clearly, and hear distinctly and choose wisely and speak plainly and sow beside all waters and devise liberal things and continue in liberal things, then that is heaven on earth. The kingdom of heaven has come. Christ is reigning whenever that has come to pass. And the nearer we approach it the nearer we are to heaven. Louder than the big guns of our battleships, louder than the voice of many waters, louder than mighty thunder should be the acclaim of God's people, saying, "Hosanna to the Iambi Hallelujah! The Lord God omnipotent reigneth, and let the earth rejoice."


Isaiah 33 is a woe against the Assyrian invaders. The prophet, after the great messianic ecstasy in the preceding chapter, comes back to his own times again to take another start. At first he deals with the local situation picturing the invading army of Assyrians, the desolation of the land by them and the awful distress in Jerusalem. Then follows the prediction of the miraculous deliverance of the city and the destruction of the enemy, upon which sinners are made to tremble and the inhabitants of Zion rejoice in quiet confidence by reason of Jehovah's protecting presence. There are several messianic gleams in this chapter, as "the king in his beauty," "Zion, . . . Jerusalem . . . a quiet habitation, . . . a place of broad rivers and streams," where there is no sickness and the "iniquity of the people is forgiven"


The historical background for this prophecy is the invasion of Sennacherib's host, the desolation of the land, and the threat of Jerusalem, all of which is described in 2 Kings 18:13 to 19: 37. The essential items of this history are as follows: Sennacherib received at Lachish the stipulated tribute from Hezekiah, but then he demanded the unconditional surrender of Jerusalem. He captured many cities and had broken up all travel. Hezekiah's ambassadors came home weeping. Then Sennacherib sent an army against Jerusalem to enforce his demands, but Rabshakeh, though skilful in speech, failed to get the keys to Jerusalem. He returned to Sennacherib whose army was visited by Jehovah and destroyed. Sennacherib returned to his own land and was smitten while worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god.


In Isaiah 33:1-6 we have the woe pronounced against the destroyer, showing his destruction, at which he would cease dealing treacherously. Then follows a prayer by the prophet to Jehovah in which he exalts Jehovah as the God of their salvation and the destroyer of the enemy. In this exaltation of Jehovah the prophet gets a glimpse of glorified Zion, filled with righteousness and justice, a city of stability and abounding in salvation, wisdom, knowledge, and the fear of Jehovah. Thus be gives the general outlines of the things which are to follow. In 7-12 we have the particulars of what the prophet has just stated in general, viz: the shouting of the enemy without, the weeping of Hezekiah's ambassadors, the waste and desertion of the highways, Sennacherib's disregard of his covenant and his spoiling of the cities, the languishing of the land, specifying the destructive work of the Assyrian army, at which point he presents Jehovah as rousing himself, delivering his people and disposing of the enemy, as thorns cast into the fire.


In verses 13-16 is a description of the effects of this intervention of Jehovah, upon the sinners and the citizens of Zion in which the prophet again leaps upon the messianic heights to show us the characteristics of a true citizen of the New Jerusalem, whose everlasting dwelling place is with Jehovah.


In verses 17-24 the prophet assures us that, in that glorious state, we shall see the King in his beauty, we shall behold a universal kingdom, whose inhabitants shall muse on the days of terror and their triumphs over their many adversaries. Then he invites them to look upon Zion and contemplate her security, her king, her broad streams, her feasts and her inhabitants, who are never sick, but are in the joy of the fellowship of their majestic Lord, who reigns forever and ever.


The characteristics here given by the prophet of a true citizen of Zion are very similar to those given by the psalmist in Psalm 15. This true citizen is herein described as righteous, upright in speech, hating oppression, rejecting bribes, stopping his ear to murderous suggestions, and closing his eyes to sinful sights, a blessed ideal yet to be realized. How different now! We are vexed in our righteous souls to behold the unrighteousness, the prevarication, the oppression, the graft, the murders and sinful sights in the present order of things. But this must give way to the principles of the majestic and beautiful king who will reign forever in justice and righteousness.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What is the section, Isaiah 28-33, called in our outline and what the date?

 

2. What the difference in the character of this and the preceding section?

 

3. What the conditions under which this prophecy was delivered, what Isaiah's task and how did he meet it?

 

4. What the key word which marks the natural divisions of this section and what the divisions thus marked?

 

5. Give a brief synopsis of chapter 28, showing its interpretation.

 

6. What two passages of this chapter are quoted in the New Testament, what use made of them in each case and what use may be made of verse 20 as touching the plan of salvation?

 

7. Give a brief synopsis of chapter 29, showing its interpretation.

 

8. What the fulfilment of 1-8 and what the best poetic description of the destruction of Sennacherib's army?

 

9. What two passages quoted from this chapter in the New Testament, and what use made of them there?

 

10. Give a brief statement of chapter 30 with the important points of interpretation.

 

11. What is the meaning of verse 33?

 

12. What the nature of chapter 31 and what the points contained therein?

 

13. What the nature of chapter 32, what in genera] its contents, how does the ideal set forth correspond with present conditions and what the ideal state herein contemplated?

 

14. What the influence that prepares for this ideal and what its importance?

 

15. What the first blessing of the Spirit herein specified?

 

16. What the general condition now respecting moral and spiritual vision and the lesson of Peter on this point?

 

17. What the second effect of the outpoured Spirit and what the importance of it? Illustrate.

 

18. What the third blessing of the Spirit and what its importance? Illustrate.

 

19. What the fourth blessing of the Spirit and what its importance? Illustrate.

 

20. What the fifth blessing of the Spirit? Explain and illustrate.

 

21. What the sixth blessing of the Spirit and what its importance?

 

22. What the nature and contents of chapter 33?

 

23. What the historical setting of this chapter?

 

24. Show the progress of this prophecy from the local conditions to the broader mesaianic phases of the kingdom.

 

25. What are the characteristics, here given by the prophet, of a true citizen of Zion?

 

 

XVII

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE BOOK OF ISAIAH PAST 9 Isaiah 84-39

 


Isaiah 34-35 form an appendix to the preceding parts of the book, setting forth the storm of God's wrath upon the whole world, and the face of nature in its sweetest forms and brightest colors, after the storm is over.


They constitute the counterparts to one great picture. The first part contains a denunciation of divine vengeance against the enemies of God's people and the second, a description of the glorious state of things after the execution of these judgments is finished. The awful picture, with its dark lurid hues, prepares the way for the soft and lovely portraiture of the blessed condition which follows.


This section opens with a call to all nations and people, the earth and the fulness thereof, the world and all things therein, to hear the prophet's message concerning Jehovah's indignation, which shows that the judgments to follow embrace the whole world.


There are three distinct paragraphs in chapter 34. In verses 1-7 we have announcement of the final judgment upon the whole world, including Edom as the leader. In verses 8-15 we have the details of the judgment upon Edom as the ideal representative of the world. In verses 16-17 the prophet appeals to the written word.


The allegorical view of the use of the word, "Edom," in this chapter is in no way inconsistent with the existence of a basis of historical fact, therefore we adopt this view for the following reasons:


1. The invitation shows that the message to be delivered was on universal interest arid application, yet the language is parabolical in kind.


2. The allegorical character of chapter 35 is undeniable, but the two chapters are linked together by the very phraseology'. As the Zion of chapter 35 is the ideal "city of God," so the Edom o