Isaiah 48

1 “Hear this, house of Jacob, you who are called by the name of Israel, and have come out of the waters of Judah. You swear by the LORD’s name, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in righteousness 2 (for they call themselves citizens of the holy city, and rely on the God of Israel; the LORD of Armies is his name): 3 I have declared the former things from of old; yes, they went out of my mouth, and I revealed them. I did them suddenly, and they happened. 4 Because I knew that you are obstinate, and your neck is an iron sinew, and your brow brass; 5 therefore I have declared it to you from of old; before it came to pass I showed it to you; lest you should say, ‘My idol has done them, and my engraved image, and my molten image, has commanded them.’ 6 You have heard it; see all this. And you, won’t you declare it? “I have shown you new things from this time, even hidden things, which you have not known. 7 They are created now, and not from of old; and before today you didn’t hear them; lest you should say, ‘Behold, I knew them.’ 8 Yes, you didn’t hear; yes, you didn’t know; yes, from of old your ear was not opened: for I knew that you dealt very treacherously, and were called a transgressor from the womb. 9 For my name’s sake, I will defer my anger, and for my praise I hold it back for you, so that I don’t cut you off. 10 Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver. I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction. 11 For my own sake, for my own sake, I will do it; for how would my name be profaned? I will not give my glory to another. 12 “Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel my called: I am he; I am the first, I am also the last. 13 Yes, my hand has laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand has spread out the heavens. When I call to them, they stand up together. 14 “Assemble yourselves, all of you, and hear; who amongst them has declared these things? He whom the LORD loves will do what he likes to Babylon, and his arm will be against the Chaldeans. 15 I, even I, have spoken; yes, I have called him. I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous. 16 “Come near to me and hear this: “From the beginning I have not spoken in secret; from the time that it happened, I was there.” Now the Lord GOD has sent me, with his Spirit. 17 The LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you by the way that you should go. 18 Oh that you had listened to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea. 19 Your offspring also would have been as the sand, and the descendants of your body like its grains. His name would not be cut off nor destroyed from before me.” 20 Leave Babylon! Flee from the Chaldeans! With a voice of singing announce this, tell it even to the end of the earth: say, “the LORD has redeemed his servant Jacob!” 21 They didn’t thirst when he led them through the deserts. He caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them. He split the rock also, and the waters gushed out. 22 “There is no peace”, says the LORD, “for the wicked.”

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1-8

The Jews valued themselves on descent from Jacob, and used the name of Jehovah as their God. They prided themselves respecting Jerusalem and the temple, yet there was no holiness in their lives. If we are not sincere in religion, we do but take the name of the Lord in vain. By prophecy they were shown how God would deal with them, long before it came to pass. God has said and done enough to prevent men’s boasting of themselves, which makes the sin and ruin of the proud worse; sooner or later every mouth shall be stopped, and all become silent before Him. We are all born children of disobedience. Where original sin is, actual sin will follow. Does not the conscience of every man witness to the truth of Scripture? May the Lord prove us, and render us doers of the word.

Verses 9-15

We have nothing ourselves to plead with God, why he should have mercy upon us. It is for his praise, to the honour of his mercy, to spare. His bringing men into trouble was to do them good. It was to refine them, but not as silver; not so thoroughly as men refine silver. If God should take that course, they are all dross, and, as such, might justly be put away. He takes them as refined in part only. Many have been brought home to God as chosen vessels, and a good work of grace begun in them, in the furnace of affliction. It is comfort to God’s people, that God will secure his own honour, therefore work deliverance for them. And if God delivers his people, he cannot be at a loss for instruments to be employed. God has formed a plan, in which, for his own sake, and the glory of his grace, he saves all that come to Him.

Verses 16-22

The Holy Spirit qualifies for service; and those may speak boldly, whom God and his Spirit send. This is to be applied to Christ. He was sent, and he had the Spirit without measure. Whom God redeems, he teaches; he teaches to profit by affliction, and then makes them partakers of his holiness. Also, by his grace he leads them in the way of duty; and by his providence he leads in the way of deliverance. God did not afflict them willingly. If their sins had not turned them away, their peace should have been always flowing and abundant. Spiritual enjoyments are ever joined with holiness of life and regard to God’s will. It will make the misery of the disobedient the more painful, to think how happy they might have been. And here is assurance given of salvation out of captivity. Those whom God designs to bring home to himself, he will take care of, that they want not for their journey. This is applicable to the grace laid up for us in Jesus Christ, from whom all good flows to us, as the water to Israel out of the rock, for that Rock was Christ. The spiritual blessings of redemption, and the rescue of the church from antichristian tyranny, are here pointed to. But whatever changes take place, the Lord warned impenitent sinners that no good would come to them; that inward anguish and outward trouble, which spring from guilt and from the Divine wrath, must be their portion for ever.

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