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16. 1Wash you, make you clean ; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes ; 2 cease to do evil;
17. Learn to do well; 3 seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
18. Come now, and 4 let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, 5 they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
1 Jer. 4:14.
? Ps. 34: 14; 37:27. Rom. 12:9. Jer. 22: 3, 16.
6 Ps. 51:2. Rev. 7:14.
Isa. 43: 26. Mic. 6: 2.
16. Wash you. From your sins. There is a part in this cleansing which men must do for themselves. They can cease their wrong doing. They can hate their sins, and repent of them, and confess them, and forsake them. Then God will do his part, which he only can do, - wash away their sins by pardon, and cleanse their souls by giving a new heart, and renewing a right spirit within them. Cease to do evil. This is the way they are to make themselves clean.
17. Learn to do well. It is not enough to cease doing wrong. Merely negative goodness is but a desert Sahara, with no weeds, indeed, but very far from the garden of Eden God means us to be. And there is no way to keep the evil ou, but by filling our lives full of good. — P. We must learn to do well : we must take pains to get the knowledge of our duty and the knowledge how to do it. Seek judgment. Justice, equity. Seek it; strive to know and do exactly right, and to give others their rights. We shall fail in this unless we earnestly seek it. Judge the fatherless. See that they have justice (ver. 23; Ps. 10:18; 72:4); that their inheritance be not taken away by fraud. Plead for the widow. 'And vindicate her claims (comp. 2 Kings 8: 3-6; Luke 18: 3-5). The orphan and widow were from the first taken by God under his special tutelage; (Ex. 22:22-24; Deut. 10: 18; Ps. 68: 5. Comp. James 1 : 27). - Cook. And for the same reason true goodness ever seeks to care for the weak and defenceless.
18. Come now, and let us reason together. Let me present the case to your good judgment, and show you what is wise and good; and you use your reason, and see if what I say is not good. Let me give you another argument for repentance and welldoing, in that I will forgive and remove the burden of sin that is crushing you. Though your sins be as scarlet. Glaring, habitual, firmly imbedded in the nature, such as no human power can eradicate or forgive. The Hebrew for "scarlet " radically means doubledyed; and implies the deep-fixed permanency of sin in the heart. Of all dyes, red is the most difficult to remove, and in many substances it cannot be removed without destroying the substance itself. They shall be as white as snow. Perfectly white and clean. Snow is white not only on the surface, but through and through. My art is wonderful. For, whereas the dyers dye rose-red, and yellow, and violet, and purple, I change the red into snow-white. — Theodoret. This implies two things: (1) perfect forgiveness; (2) perfect inward cleansing from all the stains of sin, so that heart and life shall be perfectly holy. Red like crimson. This is another way of stating the same fact, intensifying it by repetition. Shall be as wool. Wool from the washed fleece before it has been dyed.
What God has said to these Jews he says to us all.
LIBRARY REFERENCES. Commentaries, by Canon Cook, Prof. T. R. Birks, J. A. Alexander, Lange, Lowth, E. Henderson, H. Cowles, E. W. Hengstenberg, A. Barnes. These take the usual view of Isaiah. The Commentaries of Ewald, Cheyne, and, to some extent, that of Delitzsch, by a peculiar use of “the higher criticism," argue in favor of two Isaiahs, and rearrange the prophecies. Kuenen and Robertson Smith give the argument more in detail. Canon Cook and Prof. Birks use “the higher criticism” with success to combat those views. - In the latest numbers of the Expositor, Professor Plumptre has constructed what he calls an “Ideal Biography of Isaiah," an ideal representation of the prophet's life, from the facts known or implied. Matthew Arnold, also, in the Nineteenth Century, has lately published an article on “ Isaiah of Jerusalem,” giving, from his humanistic point of view, a lively picture of Isaiah as a notable embodiment of that "stream of tendency not ourselves, which makes for righteousness.” — Homer N. Dunning. “Comfort ye, comfort ye," by Rev. J. R. Macduff, D.D., is a practical exposition of chaps. 40-60.
PRACTICAL. 1. Ver. 2. Sin against God, our heavenly Father, is not only wicked, but mean. 2. Even nature and the brute creation bear witness against our sin and ingratitude.
3. Vers. 5, 6. The sinful soul is like a sick body, — the disease is painful, pervasive, deadly.
4. The sin-sickness affects the head and the heart, the centres of thought and of character.
5. When men will not turn from their sins, drawn by God's goodness, then he deals severely with them.
6. Vers. 10-15. No forms of religion can be pleasing to God where the love of the heart is wanting.
7. No outward worship, no special gifts, no bodily sacrifices are acceptable to God as a substitute for obedience, and the service of the heart.
8. Vers. 16–18. The first duty of the sinner is to repent and forsake his sin.
9. Then God will do the part he only can do, and cleanse the heart by forgiveness, and by the renewal of the Holy Spirit.
10. To do well requires study and practice.
II. Religion is reasonable, and appeals to the reason. (1) It is reasonable to be relig. gious. (2) The things God requires of us are reasonable. (3) Religion cultivates the reason and the highest parts of our nature.
SUGGESTIONS TO TEACHERS. A brief notice will be required of Isaiah, of his Book, and of his times. Only for some Bible classes will there be any need of discussing the question of the two Isaiahs. Put this lesson in its proper place in the reigns of the kings of Judah.
SUBJECT, - A SINFUL PEOPLE, AND THE WAY OF SALVATION.
I. THE SINFUL PEOPLE (vers. 2-6). (1) Like disobedient children. Show the meanness of disobedience to parents and to God. How much they have done for us. (2) Seven characteristics of this sinful people in ver. 4. (3) Comparison to a sick person. These true of sinful nations and of sinful persons. Apply them.
Illustration of “that are corrupters" (ver. 4). Sin is like an infectious disease. A little particle of it coming in contact with persons in certain conditions, gives them the disease. The truly healthy person is least likely to be contaminated. Note the quarantines against infectious disease; the care to keep infected cattle from others; the same truth in regard to plants.
II. THE FRUIT OF THIS CHARACTER (vers. 7-9). Shown by the sorrows that came upon the kingdom of Judah in Ahaz' day. The same results still follow sin.
III. FALSE EFFORTS FOR RELIEF (vers. 10–15). Impress the danger of heartless worship, and forms without the spirit. APPLY to praying, reading the Bible, going to church, giving money, etc. THE REMEDY is not in neglecting these things, but in putting a right spirit in them.
Illustration. In the little book called The Crossbearer, one of the pictures is of a person setting up his cross in the ground, and crowning it with flowers, - worshipping the cross instead of carrying it.
IV. THE TRUE WAY OF SALVATION (vers. 16–18). (1) Religion is reasonable. (2) We must do our part. (3) God is ready and waiting to do his part, - forgiveness and a new heart.
Illustration. The chemist finds that the red dyes are the hardest to eradicate. In the paper-mill the red rags are separated from the others, because the color cannot be extracted without destroying the fibre of the cotton. They are used, therefore, for making colored paper.
LESSON XI. - DEC. 13. THE SUFFERING SAVIOUR. — ISA. 53:1-12. GOLDEN TEXT.-- The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. - Isa. 53: 6.
TIME. — Written probably in the last half of the reign of Hezekiah (B.C. 713-698), more than seven centuries before it was fulfilled.
PLACE. — Jerusalem, and the kingdom of Judah.
INTRODUCTORY. The Book of Isaiah is divided into two chief parts. Part I. (chaps. 1-39), Jerusalem's fall (and she was the type of the whole race) attributed to her sin. Part II. (chaps. 40-66), is a vision of salvation from this sin, the coming of the kingdom of righteousness and peace. This second part has for its centre and heart chap. 53, the lesson for to-day.Dean Allix. In whatever light this prophecy is viewed, it is one of the most wonderful compositions that ever were written. — Todd. It is the most central, the deepest, and the loftiest thing that the Old Testament prophecy, outstripping itself, has ever achieved. Delitzsch.
In our last lesson we saw the sinfulness of men, and how deep-rooted and all-pervasive the sin was. We saw, too, that the only way of salvation from sin was by repentance and forsaking on the part of man, and forgiveness and a renewed heart from God.' To-day, we see God's method of leading men to repentance, and the means through which a new heart would be given, and the way in which God could be just and yet forgive those who had sinned against him.
1. Who 1 hath believed our report? and to whom is the 2 arm of the LORD revealed ?
1 John 12:38. Rom. 10:16. ? Isa. 51:9. Rom. 1:16.
EXPLANATORY. I. How the News of a Saviour was First Received.- Ver. 1. Who hath believed our report? The prophet had foretold the redemption of the nation by the Saviour King from God. He looked upon the future as on a prospect spread out before him in his vision. He saw the messengers go forth to publish peace (chap. 52:7). He saw afar off many nations coming to the Saviour (52: 15), but at first and among his own people these messengers were asking, “Who hath believed our report?” The speakers here are the prophets and the Gospel heralds of chap. 52:7, giving the result of their first labors in preaching the Gospel. - Cowles. The questions in this verse are strong, but not total denials. “Who hath believed?” that is, hardly any have believed. This verse is twice quoted in the New Testament as finding its fulfilment in the rejection of Christ by the Jews (John 12:38; Rom. 10:16). — Todd. Our report. The good news of salvation, and the coming of a Saviour.
WHY THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF A DIVINE SAVIOUR WAS NOT FULLY RECEIVED. (1) The Saviour came in a manner so entirely different from the expectation of the Jews. They looked for a great and glorious king who would outshine Solomon in worldly glory, and could not see their king in the suffering Saviour. (2) The promise of redemption and a new kingdom of God was so contrary to the then present appearances, when everything seemed to be growing worse and worse. (3) It was so wonderful that God should send his own son from heaven to suffer and die for this world, which is but a smallest corner of the universe, one of the least of his countless worlds. (4) No such event had ever before occurred in the world's history. “The suffering and death of Christ are the greatest thing that has ever occurred in the history of the world. For (1) it is the greatest wonder; (2) it is a work of the last necessity; (3) it is a work of the highest love; (4) it is a work of the greatest blessing." - Pfeiffer.
WHY THE REPORT SHOULD BE RECEIVED. (1) It came from God himself. (2) The sending such a Saviour is like God, who is love itself. We should expect from him the highest manifestation of love. (3) We see that God cares perfectly for the minutest creatures and most infinitesimal atoms; therefore, as Christ himself argues, he will for us (Matt. 6:25-30). (4) This world is probably the battle-field of the good and the evil for all the universe. The importance of the issues have nothing to do with the size of the battle-field. It is worthy that God should send his son to die in this world, that the good might triumph everywhere. (5) The love and care of the good turns most intensely toward the most needy (Luke 15: 4-10).
And to whom. În the original the words “to whom " are “on whom,” with a refer. ence, as it is thought, to the uplifted arm of the Lord, and the crushing and overwhelming conviction of him upon whom the power of God descends. — Todd. Is the arm of the Lord revealed? The arm is a symbol of power, as it is the instrument by which we execute our purposes. It is put for the power of God (Isa. 51:9; 52: 10). It hence means God's power in defending his people, in overcoming his enemies, and in saving the soul.
2. For 1 he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: 2 he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3. 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and 4 acquainted with grief : and we hid as it were our faces from him ; he was despised, and we 5 esteemed him not. 1 Isa. 11:1. ? Isa. 52: 14. Mark 9:12. Ps. 22:6. Isa. 49:7. Heb. 4:15. John 1: 10, 11. Revealed. Made known, seen, understood. Though the power of God was displayed, yet the people did not see and understand it. - Barnes.
II. The Suffering Saviour.- Vers. 2, 3. 2. For he. The Saviour, the Mes. siah, Jesus Christ. Shall grow up. Rather, “ He grew up." All the verbs in this passage down to the tenth verse are in the past tense. The point of sight is at the time when Messiah's sufferings are finished, and he is entering into glory. Hence the past tense is used, vers. 2-10, and the future at the close. - Birks. Before him. Before Fehovah, who fixed his eye upon him with watchfulness and protecting care. — Delitzsch. As a tender plant, or sucker, growing out of a parent stem. He grew up small and of no reputation, from a family nearly extinct, like a tender plant springing unnoticed from its root hid in a barren and dry land, out of which nothing eminent was expected. —- Bishop Horne. And as a root (springing) out of a dry ground. The root is a shoot which springs from the root left in the ground after the tree has been felled. The sprouts that come up from a root in the dry ground lack strength, beauty, comeliness, and present a strong contrast with other plants of the same sort, which may not be a yard away, but whose roots can reach the water. Such sights may be seen in any oriental garden. — Prof. Isaac H. Hall. Both figures depict the lowly and unattractive character of the small though vigorous beginning. The expression “out of dry ground,” which belongs to both figures, brings out in addition the miserable character of the external circumstances in the midst of which the birth and growth of the servant (the man Christ Jesus) had taken place, - the existing state of the enslaved and degraded nation: in a word,“ the dry ground” is the corrupt character of the age. Delitzsch. The dry ground is the barren soil of human nature. – Cook. Christ was not the product of his circumstances and his age, but was above and beyond them, as a living tree is beyond and above the barren soil in which it grows. He hath no form nor comeliness. No beautiful form or appearance, referring to his state of abasement rather than to his own personal beauty. He had no robes of royalty, no diadem, no splendid retinue, no gorgeous army. - Barnes. It refers to all the circumstances of his manifestation, parentage, position, education, following, etc. (see Luke 2:7; Matt. 13: 54-58; Luke 7: 34, 39). - Todd. And when we shall see him. Rather, joined with the previous words, “Nor comeliness (attractiveness) that we should look (with delight) on him.” — Cowles. No beauty that we should desire him. There was nothing in his appearance to make us desire him, or feel attracted to him. — Delitzsch. This represents the Messiah as in his earliest manifestations as exceedingly diminutive, unattractive, unpromising, because he utterly failed to meet the foregone ideas of the Jews. — Cowles. All this does not deny his personal attractiveness and loveliness to those who came to him, and to the poor and needy. The studied reticence of the New Testament as to his form, stature, color, etc., was designed to prevent our dwelling on the bodily, rather than on his moral beauty, holiness, love, etc.; also a providential protest against the making and veneration of images of him. The letter of P. Lentulus to the emperor Tiberius, describing his person, is spurious. - Vitringe.
3. He is (rather, was) despised. Looked down upon by the great, by the world at large. And rejected of men. The word “men” is one commonly applied to those of rank or note. — Birks. The name, “the rejected of men,” will express all the melancholy history, - rejected by the Jews; by the rich, the great, and the learned; by the mass of men of every grade and age and rank. N: drophecy was ever more strikingly fulfilled. — Barnes. A man of sorrows. The plural, because of their number. Acquainted with grief. Rather, with suffering. He was “well acquainted with grief,” no casual acquaintance, but its familiar friend. — Birks. For similar prophecies of the suffering of the Messiah, see Ps. 22, 40; Dan. 9:26, etc. For their fulllment, see Matt. 18, 29; Luke 24: 26; Acts 17: 3; Phil. 2: 7, 8, etc. – Todd. And we hid as it were our faces from him. Literally, “as one from whom there is hiding of face," as if shrinking from a horrible sight. - Cook. The impersonal form refers to the men just named, or all those of note and influ
4. Surely " he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows : yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5. But he was a wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities : the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his 3 stripes . we are healed.
6. 4 All we, like sheep, have gone astray ; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 1 Matt. 8: 17. Heb. 9:28. 1 Pet. 2:24. ? Rom. 4:25. 1 Cor. 15:3. 1 Pet. 3:18. 3 1 Pet. 2: 24
Ps. 119: 176. 1 Pet. 2:25.
ence. Their faces were averted from him, as a lunatic, beside himself, or one possessed, as a deceiver and a blasphemer.- Birks. The Jews were wilfully blind, and would not see Jesus as he really was. And we esteemed him not. Estimated him at nothing. - Luther. Set no value upon him, did not recognize his worth. In unrequited love there is the sharpest pang. The rejection of Jesus was the consummation of his sorrow. Then his cup was full. – R. Millman.
III. This Suffering an Atonement for Our Sins. — Vers. 4-6. There are no fewer than eleven expressions in this chapter, which clearly describe the VICARIOUS character of the sufferings endured by the Lord's Servant. (1) “ He bore our griefs; ". (2) “He carried our sorrows; " (3) "He was wounded for our transgressions; " (4) “ Bruised for our iniquities; " (5) "The chastisement of our peace was upon him; ” (6) “By his stripes we are healed;” (2) “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all;” (8) “For the transgression of my people was he stricken; ” (9) “ When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin; ” (10) “He shall bear (or carry) their iniquities; ” (1) “He bare the sins of many."
4. Surely. “But verily,” implying that their view was strangely contradictory to the actual truth. — Cook. Hath borne our griefs. Not took away, but bore, or carried them. “Griefs," sicknesses, a representative expression for all suffering. - Alexander. The reserence here is clearly to sins and heart sorrows; in Matt. 8: 17, to physical disease. Matthew interprets the one by the other, and leaves us to draw the conclusion that as Christ bore the sicknesses of those he healed, in like manner he bears the sins of those he redeems. But how then did he bear the infirmities of the sick? Not literally. He removed them from others, he did not become diseased himself. Neither in removing sins from others does he becoine stricken with sin himself. But he did not merely heal the sick: he truly bore their sicknesses, not in his body, but on his heart. The metaphor is of one who removes a burden by putting his own shoulder under it, and bearing it away upon himself. This Christ did, because he entered through compassion into the sorrows and sicknesses he healed. So not by any literal transfer of sins from others to himself, but by a spiritual and sympathetic bearing of the burden of the world's sins in his own heart, he bore them away from all those who cast their burdens upon him. — Lyman Abbott. But this is not all. He bore our griefs not only by sympathy, but he bore them away by his healing power. Jesus is not only loving, but divine, and still bears the griefs of his children away, by removing them, or by transforming them into blessings; and by the many ways in which his Gospel lessens the troubles and sickness of men. — P. Smitten of God. As with divine judgment, as if suffering God's displeasure.
5. He was wounded ... bruised. “ Pierced," " crushed.” There are no stronger terms in the language than are here used to signify the extremity of the sufferer's affliction:Cook. Transgressions. Going over the boundaries of right. Iniquities. In-equities, acting against the right of others. These are the common names of sin. The chastisement of our peace. The chastisement by which our peace with God was procured. The word "peace” includes all health and blessedness. — Wordsworth. Stripes. The word means not the blows, but the wounds procured by them, wales.
6. All we (every human being), like sheep, have gone astray. When left without a shepherd, sheep wander about in every direction, “every one to his own way.” This presents a lively picture of the diversity of the sins and errors of men. -- Todd. Sheep without a shepherd which have lost their way, and that in a country where flocks are exposed to the ravages of wild beasts, are the very picture of helplessness; and such was and is the condition of man, needing to be sought as well as saved. — Keith. We have turned every one to his own way. Become lonely wanderers where each one pursues his own interests, forms his own plans, following his own pleasures. - Barnes. His own way is the oppo