Isaiah prophesied in the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and
Hezekiah. He has been well called the evangelical prophet, on
account of his numerous and full prophesies concerning the
coming and character, the ministry and preaching, the sufferings
and death of the Messiah, and the extent and continuance of his
kingdom. Under the veil of the deliverance from Babylon, Isaiah
points to a much greater deliverance, which was to be effected
by the Messiah; and seldom does he mention the one, without
alluding at the same time to the other; nay, he is often so much
enraptured with the prospect of the more distant deliverance, as
to lose sight of that which was nearer, and to dwell on the
Messiah's person, office, character, and kingdom.
he corruptions prevailing among the Jews. (1-9) Severe
censures. (10-15) Exhortations to repentance. (16-20) The state
of Judah is lamented; with gracious promises of the gospel
Verses 1-9: Isaiah signifies, "The salvation of the Lord;" a very
suitable name for this prophet, who prophesies so much of Jesus
the Saviour, and his salvation. God's professing people did not
know or consider that they owed their lives and comforts to
God's fatherly care and kindness. How many are very careless in
the affairs of their souls! Not considering what we do know in
religion, does us as much harm, as ignorance of what we should
know. The wickedness was universal. Here is a comparison taken
from a sick and diseased body. The distemper threatens to be
mortal. From the sole of the foot even to the head; from the
meanest peasant to the greatest peer, there is no soundness, no
good principle, no religion, for that is the health of the soul.
Nothing but guilt and corruption; the sad effects of Adam's
fall. This passage declares the total depravity of human nature.
While sin remains unrepented, nothing is done toward healing
these wounds, and preventing fatal effects. Jerusalem was
exposed and unprotected, like the huts or sheds built up to
guard ripening fruits. These are still to be seen in the East,
where fruits form a large part of the summer food of the people.
But the Lord had a small remnant of pious servants at Jerusalem.
It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed. The evil
nature is in every one of us; only Jesus and his sanctifying
Spirit can restore us to spiritual health.
Verses 10-15: Judea was desolate, and their cities burned. This
awakened them to bring sacrifices and offerings, as if they
would bribe God to remove the punishment, and give them leave to
go on in their sin. Many who will readily part with their
sacrifices, will not be persuaded to part with their sins. They
relied on the mere form as a service deserving a reward. The
most costly devotions of wicked people, without thorough
reformation of heart and life, cannot be acceptable to God. He
not only did not accept them, but he abhorred them. All this
shows that sin is very hateful to God. If we allow ourselves in
secret sin, or forbidden indulgences; if we reject the salvation
of Christ, our very prayers will become abomination.
Verses 16-20: Not only feel sorrow for the sin committed, but break off
the practice. We must be doing, not stand idle. We must be doing
the good the Lord our God requires. It is plain that the
sacrifices of the law could not atone, even for outward national
crimes. But, blessed be God, there is a Fountain opened, in
which sinners of every age and rank may be cleansed. Though our
sins have been as scarlet and crimson, a deep dye, a double dye,
first in the wool of original corruption, and afterwards in the
many threads of actual transgression; though we have often
dipped into sin, by many backslidings; yet pardoning mercy will
take out the stain, (Ps 51:7). They should have all the
happiness and comfort they could desire. Life and death, good
and evil, are set before us. O Lord, incline all of us to live
to thy glory.
Verses 21-31: Neither holy cities nor royal ones are faithful to their
trust, if religion does not dwell in them. Dross may shine like
silver, and the wine that is mixed with water may still have the
colour of wine. Those have a great deal to answer for, who do
not help the oppressed, but oppress them. Men may do much by
outward restraints; but only God works effectually by the
influences of his Spirit, as a Spirit of Judgment. Sin is the
worst captivity, the worst slavery. The redemption of the
spiritual Zion, by the righteousness and death of Christ, and by
his powerful grace, most fully accord with what is here meant.
Utter ruin is threatened. The Jews should become as a tree when
blasted by heat; as a garden without water, which in those hot
countries would soon be burned up. Thus shall they be that trust
in idols, or in an arm of flesh. Even the strong man shall be as
tow; not only soon broken, and pulled to pieces, but easily
catching fire. When the sinner has made himself as tow and
stubble, and God makes himself as a consuming fire, what can
prevent the utter ruin of the sinner?