« PreviousContinue »
Unto him shall approach and be confounded
25. In Jehovah shall be vindicated, and shall glory, All the seed of Israel.”
The day is now arrived when all shall know, and be compelled to own, “verily, there is a reward for the righteous; verily, there is a God that judgeth the earth.” Jehovah, shall it be confessed by all, is now displaying the righteous acts of his vengeance with almighty power. His enemies and friends alike feel the effects of this; the one to their shame and confusion, the other to their
SECTION VI. Remarks on the Forty-sixth and two following Chapters.
Thus, after his wonted manner, has the Spirit of prophecy again led us to contemplate the consummation of the church's felicity in the erection of Messiah's throne. The prophetic lamp now scatters some rays on the more immediate concerns of the remnant of Judah in the Babylonian captivity, and in the restoration by Cyrus. It ends with a very remarkable address to that portion of Judah which should at that era be restored to build their city, but not in such circumstances as themselves, perhaps, imagined. This fresh episode begins with our forty-sixth chapter. The idols of Babylon are compared to beasts of burden, that break down beneath their load, and are overtaken and seized, both themselves and those they are attempting
to carry off. On the other hand, * those that had relied on the support of the God of Israel should be carried through all their journey, and brought in safety to its end, and should obtain its object. The folly of these idol-worshippers is exposed, t—Israel are bid to reflect deeply upon it, and exercise their reason as men; and the event has shown, that rebellious and corrupt as they were in other respects, yet the Jewish church was completely cured of image-worship in the Babylonian captivity: insomuch, that in the prophecies of the latter days, which we have considered, this idolatry distinguishes, not the descendants of the patriarchs, but their opponents. The prophecies, it should seem from the remainder of the chapter, which had so expressly predicted the deliverance of the Jewish nation from their slavery by Cyrus, “the ravenous bird from the east,”f and the execution of righteous vengeance upon their cruel persecutors, was so far blessed to the nation, that they never afterwards preferred the graven and molten images of their enemies, as they fre... quently had done before, to “ the Lord God of their fathers.” An apostrophe to the fallen Babylon, once so proud and so secure, and the cruel tyrant of affiicted Israel, occupies the forty-seventh chapter. The inefficacy of all the arts of the Chaldean astrologers and magicians to foretel or to remedy her approaching fate, is pointed out in the most beautiful and striking language. The forty-eighth chapter, which finishes this series of prophecy, is evidently addressed to that people who had been restored by Cyrus, according to the predictions above. They are addressed in the first verse as “Jacob” and “Israel;” but to distinguish that a part only is meant, and not the Israel of the general prophecy, it is expressly added, “Even ye that have flowed from the fountain of Judah.” They are plainly designated as professing the true religion of Jehovah, “but not in truth and righteousness:” and this exactly corresponds with every description we have of the remnant that was restored from Babylon, from the period of that captivity down to the era of the incarnation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Yet, in a certain sense, notwithstanding this hypocrisy, “they rest upon Jehovah for support,” they were “called of the Holy City:”* and the holy name of “Jehovah Sabaoth” was pledged for their support, to preserve a remnant in Jerusalem till Shiloh should Come. This people are expostulated with + respecting their former idolatry, and that stiffness and stubbornness of heart, so often laid to the charge of ancient Israel. The language here is somewhat obscured; but I conceive the general meaning to be, that God had so delivered the former prophecies concerning Babylon, their captivity, and deliverance, and had accomplished the predictions in such a manner, that the nation of the Jews could not help being convinced in their understandings, although their hearts were far from the true God, while they professed his name. However, for his own sake, as it follows, # he had spared that remnant, and brought them back to Jerusalem, having in the furnace of Babylon purged them from the grossness of idolatry. Accordingly, Israel in general, Israel in all ages, who shall hear the prophecy of this book, are called upon to remark," how God their Redeemer had by Cyrus executed his vengeance upon Babylon; not in person, but by Cyrus. It was the same divine person, however, as is clearly intimated in the fifteenth verse, who had wrought invisibly, the God of Israel who hid himself, and whom the Jewish nation at that very time, perhaps, expected in person. It was the same person, who at some future period, which the prophecy contemplates, comes as the sent of the Father, and comes with the Holy Ghost: or more properly, as the Gospel church has experienced, not only has there been an inearnation of the ETERNAL SoN ; but also a personal mission of the Ho LY GHost, the Comforter: —
* Ver. 3. ' t Ver. 5, 6, 7. f : Ver. 11. WOL. I. Y
16. Draw near to me, and hear ye this,
Before time was there “am' I,
I have just observed, that it is probable the Jewish church expected at that epocha the personal appearance of the Messiah. For when, indeed, did they not expect him : We may, therefore, easily suppose that they confounded together the predictions of their temporal deliverance from Babylon, with the greater deliverance foretold in connexion with it. They would of course
o * Ver. 12, &c.
* See Bishop Lowth's note. * In mystery I spake, falthough] from f the season of existence I subsist;
But now the Lord Jehovah hath sent me and his Spirit.”
* Bishop Horsley translates:– “Draw near unto me, and hear ye this, not [heard] from the beginning; + Or ‘before.”
expect, on their release from captivity, the fulfilment of all the glorious things which had been spoken respecting the Israel of the last days; especially the miraculous display of divine power, exceeding that wrought at the exodus from Egypt, so often mentioned in the more ancient prophecies in the Psalms, and in these of Isaiah. The language of the oracle before us seems to intimate that, in a certain sense, it might have been so, had Israel obeyed the instruction of their heavenly guide: –
18. Oh! hadst thou attended my commandments,
Their peace, or happiness; or, as we should, perhaps, render the word in this connexion, their “completion,” or “fulfilment”: — the completion of those glorious promises might have flowed to thee in great abundance, and your vindication out of the Babylonish captivity, instead of being so poor and inglorious an event, that it disappointed those who had survived to see it, and to see the foundation of the new temple laid, might have more visibly displayed the hand of the Almighty.
19. Then had thy seed been as the sand,
* Tonbw and Tnpox ; the first Hsrael's case have been the fulfilterm signifies “thy peace,” or thy ment of the promises made to the “full peace,” or “complete hap- fathers. The latter term signifies, piness;" that which is “the filling the righteous vindication that the up,” “completion,” or “perfect- same people could have expeing” of a thing. See Simon and rienced, according to the truth of Parkhurst. It seems to imply here God's word. that perfect peace, which would in