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length depart not only from Israel but from Judah also; the favour and protection of the Lord must be utterly withdrawn from Jerusalem. And first of all, evil would come on them from that very quarter, to which Ahaz was inclined to look for help in his present jeopardy, instead of trusting in the help of the Lord. "The Lord shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father's house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; even the king of Assyria." Out of Egypt too would God summon an enemy to avenge his cause; that Egypt to which his people, in despite of his commands, were so apt to resort for friends; that Egypt out of fondness for whose worldly comforts they had from the first been disposed to undervalue their own promised land.
The extent to which the country would be emptied of its inhabitants, when shorn by the king of Assyria, as by a sharp razor, is next described, in various remarkable particulars. The land being still fertile, and the people few, they would have plenty of that kind of food, which least depends upon the husbandry of man. The Assyrians would have carried off their flocks and herds, together with the multitude of the people, so that no one would be likely to possess more than one cow and two sheep. Yet the pasturage being wider in the depopulated land, these would give their owner "abundance of milk." Honey also would abound as usual. For "the bee that is in the land of Assyria," whom the Lord would fetch for the chastisement of his people, would wage war with men, and make spoil of cattle, but would not rob the land of those resources for man's refreshment, which God has contrived to provide abundantly, by the diligence of one of the least but most remarkable of his creatures. As to the vineyards, for lack of hands to cultivate them, even the most valuable would be overrun with "briers and thorns." And by reason of the wild beasts frequenting them, it would not be safe to go thither unarmed. Only to those few spots which might be cleared by cultivation this fear would not extend. And only in such places might the remnant of sheep and oxen still be in safety pastured. Such were the evils hereafter to be brought upon Judah, by that nation, to which Ahaz now resorted for defence. Such is the common consequence of trusting in the world, for that help, which is to be found only in the Lord. Let those who have tried it answer truly, and they cannot fail to own, that in all its plenty is desolation, in all its sweetness woe. Selfishness is the character of the worldly. To be deceived, betrayed, and ruined, is the lot of those who trust in the world. The help which it affords is made the means of establishing the bondage at which it aims. And the deluded sinner, who by faith in things unseen, might have enjoyed liberty and life, having chosen instead to make the world his friend, spends the days of his sojourning on earth in fear and trembling, lonely in the midst of multitudes, and whilst yet amongst the living, dead.
That Assyria would soon spoil both Israel and Judah.
1 Moreover the Lord said unto me, Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man's pen concerning Mahershalal-hash-baz.
2 And I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah.
3 And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said the LORD to me, Call his name Mahershalal-hash-baz.
4 For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria.
5 The LORD spake also unto me again, saying,
6 Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah's son;
7 Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks: 8 And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.
9 Associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye of far countries: gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces.
10 Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought; speak
the word, and it shall not stand : for God is with us.
11 For the LORD spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying, 12 Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.
13 Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.
14 And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
15 And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken. 16 Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.
17 And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.
18 Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.
19 And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?
20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. 21 And they shall pass through it, hardly bestead and hungry
and it shall come to pass, that 22 And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness.
when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward.
Of abiding by the written word of God.
The words which Isaiah was commanded to write on a great roll, and by which he afterwards named his son, mean, as we learn in the margin of the Bible, "Make speed to the spoil, hasten to the prey." Both the writing attested by two witnesses, and the name by which the child was called, would be evidences of the prediction here set down. And not only should Samaria, the kingdom of the ten tribes, be spoiled by the Assyrians, but further this great river would overflow Judah also. It would "reach even to the neck;" as we know it did in the time of Hezekiah, when all the land was overrun by the Assyrians, and only Jerusalem escaped. Strange that this harm should happen to that which the prophet calls, "thy land, O Immanuel." Strange if it were not for the sin of the Lord's people. Yet shall not their enemies triumph in the end. The deliverance of Jerusalem from the hand of the Assyrians, in the time of Hezekiah, may serve for a true token to us, that no power of man, no malice of the devil, shall ever prevail against the church of God.
The prophet, in the spirit, defies the foes of Immanuel's land. For the Lord, he states, had so instructed him, to fear no confederacy of man, but to fear the Lord, and to have Him in holy awe. And God would prove, as He has proved in Christ Jesus, a sanctuary of safety to the faithful, and a stone of stumbling to the unbelieving. Šee 1 Pet. 2. 8. All depended on the deference paid to the testimony of the law and of the prophets. And Isaiah for his part resolves, that he will wait with patience and with faith, however long it might please God to hide away his face; thankful to think, that he and his children were privileged to be signs unto the people of the Lord. But as for the people, they were apt to resort to the delusions of false religion. Them therefore he refers, "to the law and to the testimony;" warning them, that if they desert these guides, they must wander in darkness, and destitution, in the murmurs of discontent and anguish, both as towards God, and towards man. And these things are not spoken by the prophet only. We find at least a part of this passage applied in the Epistle to the Hebrews as spoken by our Saviour Christ. See Heb. 2. 18. And we may hence justly conceive, that we are acting according to his will, in rejecting all man's devices in religion, and in holding, that if any speak and teach not according to the written word, "it is because there is no light in them."
The birth and titles of the Messiah.
1 Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.
2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. 3 Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
4 For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian. 5 For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.
6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
8 The LORD sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel.
9 And all the people shall know, even Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria, that say in the pride and stoutness of heart,
10 The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones: the sycomores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars.
11 Therefore the LORD shall set up the adversaries of Rezin against him, and join his enemies together;
12 The Syrians before, and the Philistines behind; and they shall devour Israel with open mouth. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
13 For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the LORD of hosts.
14 Therefore the LORD will cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush, in one day.
15 The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail.
16 For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.
17 Therefore the LORD shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows: for every one is an hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
18 For wickedness burneth as the fire it shall devour the briers and thorns, and shall kindle in the thickets of the forest, and they shall mount up
like the lifting up of smoke.
20 And he shall snatch on the right hand, and be hungry; and he shall eat on the left hand,
and they shall not be satisfied: they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm:
21 Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh and they together shall be against Judah. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
Our redemption by Christ Jesus.
How wonderfully do mercy and justice meet together in God's word, even as in Himself! In the midst of the desolation denounced against Samaria, what joy to the affrighted people to be told, that on them should shine the light of the Messiah's kingdom! But first they must undergo the judgments set forth in the latter portion of this chapter. And after each of these woes denounced, as well as after that mentioned in connexion at the beginning of the next chapter, it is added, "For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still." Yet in this benighted region did the light of the Gospel, as here foretold, first shed its glorious rays. In "the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphthali" did Christ first do his mighty works, and preach his precious word. Though God had in course of time renewed the numbers of the people, He had not "increased the joy ;" until the shining of this light sprung up, to fill their hearts with gladness. But then was broken the yoke of their captivity, the rod of their oppression; and that, no less plainly by almighty power than in the great defeat of the Midianites by Gideon; see Judg. 7. 19; that, no less thoroughly than as when the weapons of an enemy discomfited are all consumed by fire. See Ps. 46. 9. Ezek. 39. 8-10. But what is the manner of deliverance here spoken of? Who is this mighty Saviour? "Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder." Redemption by Christ Jesus, this is the true light, and joy, and glory, not only of Israel but of Judah also, not only of Israel and of Judah, but also of all mankind. Redemption by Christ Jesus. He is the child here spoken of, the child of Mary, the Son of God; "Wonderful," to be admired and adored; "Counsellor," to be consulted, and obeyed; "the mighty God," being ever One with "The everlasting Father;" "The Prince of Peace," having made our peace with God. And his is the "government and peace," the rule and reconciliation, the dominion of love divine, of which there is no end; his the throne of David, to reign over God's people in righteousness for evermore. "The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this." Thanks be to Thee, O God, for having already done so much in the redemption of thy people! Thanks be to Thee for the pledge thus given us, that Thou wilt in thy due season perfect all!