Isaiah 57


‘The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.’ Isaiah 57:1-2

This chapter begins by telling us about the rulers’ unconcern over the injustice in the land. How terrible the condition of a nation when the few righteous people left in it are taken by death, 1 Kings 14:10-14 / 2 Kings 21:16, and no one cares.

It is ‘far better’ to depart and be with Christ, Philippians 1:21-24.

‘But you—come here, you children of a sorceress, you offspring of adulterers and prostitutes! Who are you mocking? At whom do you sneer and stick out your tongue? Are you not a brood of rebels, the offspring of liars? You burn with lust among the oaks and under every spreading tree; you sacrifice your children in the ravines and under the overhanging crags. The idols among the smooth stones of the ravines are your portion; indeed, they are your lot. Yes, to them you have poured out drink offerings and offered grain offerings. In view of all this, should I relent? You have made your bed on a high and lofty hill; there you went up to offer your sacrifices. Behind your doors and your doorposts you have put your pagan symbols. Forsaking me, you uncovered your bed, you climbed into it and opened it wide; you made a pact with those whose beds you love, and you looked with lust on their naked bodies. You went to Molek with olive oil and increased your perfumes. You sent your ambassadors far away; you descended to the very realm of the dead! You wearied yourself by such going about, but you would not say, ‘It is hopeless.’ You found renewal of your strength, and so you did not faint.’ Isaiah 57:3-10

Here we read of the incorrigible state of God’s people is condemned.

These people were indeed the children of apostasy. They are described as sorcerers, adulterers and prostitutes.

They were children of lawbreakers and liars. The society morally degraded to the point of sacrificing the children to false gods they imagined in their minds, 2 Chronicles 33:6 / Psalm 106:37-38 / Jeremiah 7:31 / Jeremiah 19:5.

Hailey, in his commentary, paraphrases these lines as follows.

‘The citizens of Judah are children of idolatry, the offspring of people who forsook Jehovah for the witchcraft of the heathen; and they are the posterity of spiritual adulterers who went ‘whoring’ after false gods. The rejection of Jehovah had resulted in apostasy and excessive wickedness.’

Their sexual passions were unleashed behind closed doors where they practised orgies and fornication. They believed in an assortment of gods who would condone their wicked behaviour and as a result, they sacrificed to gods which they believed were in the valleys, on mountains, in their houses, and wherever they would satisfy their lusts with immoral behaviour.

They adored the genital organs and they worshipped Molek with its perfumed debauchery, which was characteristic of the Ammonites. Their situation was ‘hopeless’, that is, they didn’t have the moral sense of realising that they were on a road to no moral return. Their lifestyle of debauchery would be the end of them.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘These verses stress two things, 1. The debasing of the people even unto Sheol by their shameless worship of pagan gods, and 2. Their seeking foreign aid, instead of relying upon Jehovah. Also, Isaiah 57:10 indicates that they went far beyond their ordinary strength in such shameful activities.’

‘Whom have you so dreaded and feared that you have not been true to me, and have neither remembered me nor taken this to heart? Is it not because I have long been silent that you do not fear me? I will expose your righteousness and your works, and they will not benefit you. When you cry out for help, let your collection of idols save you! The wind will carry all of them off, a mere breath will blow them away. But whoever takes refuge in me will inherit the land and possess my holy mountain.” Isaiah 57:11-13

Here we read that the sin of God’s people will finally destroy them. Divine forbearance must give way to intervention and punishment.

They feared man more than God, and so, followed after the social pressures to live according to the degraded morals of the day but now it was time for judgment.

God sarcastically refers to their self-righteousness. They claimed to be righteous, but their righteousness was according to the religion that they had created after their own desires. The destiny of idol gods and their worshipers is destruction, for when the worshipers are taken away, so are the gods that they created in their minds.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Israel’s original possession of the land was unconditional. It was given to them in fulfilment of the promise to Abraham, Genesis 12:7, and it was intended to be theirs permanently, ‘forever’, Exodus 32:13, but the retaining of the land was conditional, Leviticus 26:14-15.’

Comfort For The Contrite

‘And it will be said: “Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.” For this is what the high and exalted One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. I will not accuse them forever, nor will I always be angry, for then they would faint away because of me—the very people I have created. I was enraged by their sinful greed; I punished them, and hid my face in anger, yet they kept on in their wilful ways. I have seen their ways, but I will heal them; I will guide them and restore comfort to Israel’s mourners, creating praise on their lips. Peace, peace, to those far and near,” says the LORD. “And I will heal them.” But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud. “There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.” Isaiah 57:14-21

All who repent will be delivered and only the penitent have the promise of blessings. To those who persist in wickedness and impenitence, there will be no peace or forgiveness.

The way to build up was prepared for restoration by removing the wickedness of the people that was defined in the preceding verses, Isaiah 40:3 / Isaiah 62:10. Although God is exalted above the heavens, at the same time the omnipresent God lives in the hearts of the humble and contrite.

While living in the hearts of the contrite, God judges those who live in sinful rebellion. God judged His people for their rebellion and then hid Himself from them while they were in captivity.

Once they repented, He revealed Himself in order to heal them of their sinful ways. He tore them down through captivity and He built them up through restoration to their homeland.

Although the wicked will have no peace in this life, 2 Peter 2:22 / James 1:6 / Jude 1:13, the repentant enjoys the peace of God that passes all understanding, Philippians 4:7.

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