The conversion of the Gentiles, Description of the sinfulness of Israel. (1-9) The awful punishment of unbelievers. (10-22)
Verses 1-9 The calling of the Gentiles, the spread of the gospel, and that far more extensive preaching of it yet to come, are foretold. Let Christians strengthen one another, and support one another. It is God who teaches his people, by his word and Spirit. Christ promotes peace, as well as holiness. If all men were real Christians, there could be no war; but nothing answering to these expressions has yet taken place on the earth. Whatever others do, let us walk in the light of this peace. Let us remember that when true religion flourishes, men delight in going up to the house of the Lord, and in urging others to accompany them. Those are in danger who please themselves with strangers to God; for we soon learn to follow the ways of persons whose company we keep. It is not having silver and gold, horses and chariots, that displeases God, but depending upon them, as if we could not be safe, and easy, and happy without them, and could not but be so with them. Sin is a disgrace to the poorest and the lowest. And though lands called Christian are not full of idols, in the literal sense, are they not full of idolized riches? and are not men so busy about their gains and indulgences, that the Lord, his truths, and precepts, are forgotten or despised?
Verses 10-22 The taking of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans seems first meant here, when idolatry among the Jews was done away; but our thoughts are led forward to the destruction of all the enemies of Christ. It is folly for those who are pursued by the wrath of God, to think to hide or shelter themselves from it. The shaking of the earth will be terrible to those who set their affections on things of the earth. Men's haughtiness will be brought down, either by the grace of God convincing them of the evil of pride, or by the providence of God depriving them of all the things they were proud of. The day of the Lord shall be upon those things in which they put their confidence. Those who will not be reasoned out of their sins, sooner or later shall be frightened out of them. Covetous men make money their god; but the time will come when they will feel it as much their burden. This whole passage may be applied to the case of an awakened sinner, ready to leave all that his soul may be saved. The Jews were prone to rely on their heathen neighbours; but they are here called upon to cease from depending on mortal man. We are all prone to the same sin. Then let not man be your fear, let not him be your hope; but let your hope be in the Lord your God. Let us make this our great concern.
Isaiah 2:1-22 .
1. The inscription.
The word--the revelation.
2. Same as Micah 4:1 . As Micah prophesied in Jotham's reign, and Isaiah in Uzziah's, Micah rests on Isaiah, whom he confirms: not vice versa. HENGSTENBERG on slight grounds makes Micah 4:1 the original.
last days--that is, Messiah's: especially the days yet to come, to which all prophecy hastens, when "the house of the God of Jacob," namely, at Jerusalem, shall be the center to which the converted nations shall flock together ( Matthew 13:32 , Luke 2:31 Luke 2:32 , Acts 1:6 Acts 1:7 ); where "the kingdom" of Israel is regarded as certain and the time alone uncertain ( Psalms 68:15 Psalms 68:16 , Psalms 72:8 Psalms 72:11 ).
mountain of the Lord's house . . . in the top, &c.--the temple on Mount Moriah: type of the Gospel, beginning at Jerusalem, and, like an object set on the highest hill, made so conspicuous that all nations are attracted to it.
flow--as a broad stream ( Isaiah 66:12 ).
3. If the curse foretold against Israel has been literally fulfilled, so shall the promised blessing be literal. We Gentiles must not, while giving them the curse, deny them their peculiar blessing by spiritualizing it. The Holy Ghost shall be poured out for a general conversion then ( Jeremiah 50:5 , Zechariah 8:21 Zechariah 8:23 , Joel 2:28 ).
from Jerusalem--( Luke 24:47 ) an earnest of the future relations of Jerusalem to Christendom ( Romans 11:12 Romans 11:15 ).
4. judge--as a sovereign umpire, settling all controversies (compare Isaiah 11:4 ). LOWTH translates "work," "conviction."
plowshares--in the East resembling a short sword ( Isaiah 9:6 Isaiah 9:7 , Zechariah 9:10 ).
5. The connection is: As Israel's high destiny is to be a blessing to all nations ( Genesis 12:3 ), let Israel's children walk worthy of it ( Ephesians 5:8 ).
6. Therefore--rather, "For": reasons why there is the more need of the exhortation in Isaiah 2:5 .
thou--transition to Jehovah: such rapid transitions are natural, when the mind is full of a subject.
replenished--rather, filled, namely, with the superstitions of the East, Syria, and Chaldea.
soothsayers--forbidden ( Deuteronomy 18:10-14 ).
Philistines--southwest of Palestine: antithesis to "the east."
please themselves--rather, join hands with, that is, enter into alliances, matrimonial and national: forbidden ( Exodus 23:32 , Nehemiah 13:23 , &c.).
7. gold--forbidden to be heaped together ( Deuteronomy 17:17 ). Solomon disobeyed ( 1 Kings 10:21 1 Kings 10:27 ).
horses . . . chariots--forbidden ( Deuteronomy 17:16 ). But Solomon disobeyed ( 1 Kings 20:26 ). Horses could be used effectively for war in the plains of Egypt; not so in the hilly Judea. God designed there should be as wide as possible a distinction between Israel and the Egyptians. He would have His people wholly dependent on Him, rather than on the ordinary means of warfare ( Psalms 20:7 ). Also horses were connected with idolatry ( 2 Kings 23:11 ); hence His objection: so the transition to "idols" ( Isaiah 2:8 ) is natural.
8. ( Hosea 8:4 ). Not so much public idolatry, which was not sanctioned in Uzziah's and Jotham's reign, but (see 2 Kings 15:4 2 Kings 15:35 ) as private.
9. mean--in rank: not morally base: opposed to "the great man." The former is in Hebrew, Adam, the latter, ish.
boweth--namely, to idols. All ranks were idolaters.
forgive . . . not--a threat expressed by an imperative. Isaiah so identifies himself with God's will, that he prays for that which he knows God purposes. So Revelation 18:6 .
10. Poetical form of expressing that, such were their sins, they would be obliged by God's judgments to seek a hiding-place from His wrath ( Revelation 6:15 Revelation 6:16 ).
dust--equivalent to "caves of the earth," or dust ( Isaiah 2:19 ).
for fear, &c.--literally, "from the face of the terror of the Lord."
11. lofty looks--literally, "eyes of pride" ( Psalms 18:27 ).
humbled--by calamities. God will so vindicate His honor "in that day" of judgments, that none else "shall be exalted" ( Zechariah 14:9 ).
12. Man has had many days: "the day of the Lord" shall come at last, beginning with judgment, a never-ending day in which God shall be "all in all" ( 1 Corinthians 15:28 , 2 Peter 3:10 ).
every--not merely person, as English Version explains it, but every thing on which the nation prided itself.
13. cedars . . . oaks--image for haughty nobles and princes ( Amos 2:9 , Zechariah 11:1 Zechariah 11:2 ; compare Revelation 19:18-21 ).
Bashan--east of Jordan, north of the river Jabbok, famous for fine oaks, pasture, and cattle. Perhaps in "oaks" there is reference to their idolatry ( Isaiah 1:29 ).
14. high . . . hills--referring to the "high places" on which sacrifices were unlawfully offered, even in Uzziah's (equivalent to Azariah) reign ( 2 Kings 15:4 ). Also, places of strength, fastnesses in which they trusted, rather than in God; so
15. tower . . . wall--Towers were often made on the walls of cities.
16. Tarshish--Tartessus in southwest Spain, at the mouth of the Guadalquivir, near Gibraltar. It includes the adjoining region: a Phoenician colony; hence its connection with Palestine and the Bible ( 2 Chronicles 9:21 ). The name was also used in a wide sense for the farthest west, as our West Indies ( Isaiah 66:19 , Psalms 48:7 , 72:10 ). "Ships of Tarshish" became a phrase for richly laden and far-voyaging vessels. The judgment shall be on all that minister to man's luxury (compare Revelation 18:17-19 ).
pictures--ordered to be destroyed ( Numbers 33:52 ). Still to be seen on the walls of Nineveh's palaces. It is remarkable that whereas all other ancient civilized nations, Egypt, Assyria, Greece, Rome, have left monuments in the fine arts, Judea, while rising immeasurably above them in the possession of "the living oracles," has left none of the former. The fine arts, as in modern Rome, were so often associated with polytheism, that God required His people in this, as in other respects, to be separate from the nations ( Deuteronomy 4:15-18 ). But Vulgate translation is perhaps better, "All that is beautiful to the sight"; not only paintings, but all luxurious--ornaments. One comprehensive word for all that goes before (compare Revelation 18:12 Revelation 18:14 Revelation 18:16 ).
17. Repeated from Isaiah 2:11 , for emphatic confirmation.
18. idols--literally, "vain things," "nothings" ( 1 Corinthians 8:4 ). Fulfilled to the letter. Before the Babylonian captivity the Jews were most prone to idolatry; in no instance, ever since. For the future fulfilment, see Zechariah 13:2 , Revelation 13:15 , 19:20 .
19. The fulfilment answers exactly to the threat ( Isaiah 2:10 ).
caves--abounding in Judea, a hilly country; hiding-places in times of alarm ( 1 Samuel 13:6 ).
shake . . . earth--and the heavens also ( Hebrews 12:26 ). Figure for severe and universal judgments.
20. moles--Others translate "mice." The sense is, under ground, in darkness.
bats--unclean birds ( Leviticus 11:19 ), living amidst tenantless ruins ( Revelation 11:13 ).
22. The high ones ( Isaiah 2:11 Isaiah 2:13 ) on whom the people trust, shall be "brought low" ( Isaiah 3:2 ); therefore "cease from" depending on them, instead of on the Lord ( Psalms 146:3-5 ).