Isaiah Chapter 4:1-6
1. And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel; only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.
1. Apprehendent itaque in die illa septenae mulieres viros singulos, dicentes, Pane nostro vescemur, vestimentis nostris induemur, tantum invocetur nomen tuum super nos, (vel, censeamur tuo nomine,) tollasque probrum nostrum.
2. In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.
2. In die illa erit germen Iehovae in pulchritudinem et gloriam; et fructus terrae in praestantiam et decorem; nempe in liberatis Israelis.
3. And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem:
3. Et eveniet ut qui reliquus fuerit in Sion, et residuus manserit in Ierusalem, sanctus vocetur, omnesque Ierosolymis inter vivos (vel, ad vitam,) asscripti erunt;
4. When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof, by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.
4. Cum scilicet Dominus eluerit sordes filiarum Sion, et sanguines Ierusalem expiaverit e medio ejus, et in Spiritu judicii, et in Spiritu incendii (vel, ardoris.)
5. And the Lord will create upon every dwelling-place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence.
5. Et craebit Iehova super totam habitationem montis Sion, et super omnem coetum ejus, nubem et obscuritatem interdia; noctu vero splendorem ignis flammantis; quia super omnem gloriam erit protectio.
6. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the day-time from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.
6. Eritque obumbratio per diem in umbram ab aestu, in refugium et latibulum a nimbo et imbre.
Thy husband Abraham shall be a covering to thy head. (Genesis 20:16.)
But if she remain unmarried, she is concealed under the name of her family. That this is the true meaning of that mode of expression is sufficiently evident from what Jacob says when blessing his grandchildren,
Let my name, and the name of my fathers,
Abraham and Isaac, be called on them; (Genesis 48:16;)
that is, "Let them be reckoned as our descendants, and let them be partakers of the covenant, and never excluded from it, as were Esau and Ishmael." In the same manner also do heathen writers speak; as, in Lucan, Marcia, wishing to return to Cato, says: "Grant me only the bare name of marriage; let permission be given that it may be inscribed on my tomb, Marcia the wife of Cato."1
This passage is usually expounded as referring to Christ; and the opinion, plausible in itself, derives additional probability from the words of the prophet Zechariah:
Behold the man whose name shall be The Branch.
It is still further strengthened by the consideration, that the Prophet does not barely name this Branch, but mentions it with a title expressive of respect, as if he had intended to honor the Divinity of Christ. When he afterwards adds
This metaphor is frequently employed in Scripture, that the gifts of God spring up in the world.
Truth shall spring out of the earth, and
righteousness shall look down from heaven. (Psalm 85:11.)
In like manner the Prophet afterwards says:
Let the earth open and bring forth salvation. (Isaiah 45:8.)
These words unquestionably denote a rich supply both of spiritual and of earthly blessings. That such is the meaning of the passage now under consideration is evident from the context; for Isaiah immediately afterwards adds, that it will be
They who limit it to the person of Christ expose themselves to the ridicule of the Jews, as if it were in consequence of scarcity that they tortured passages of Scripture for their own convenience. But there are other passages of Scripture from which it may be more clearly proved that Christ is true God and true man, so that there is no need of ingenious glosses. Yet I acknowledge that the Prophet speaks here about the kingdom of Christ, on which the restoration of the Church is founded. But it ought to be observed, that the consolation is not addressed indiscriminately to all, but only to the remnant, which has been marvellously rescued from the jaws of death.
Besides, as it might be deemed a cold consolation if he had only said that a small number would be saved, he discourses about the
There shall be salvation in Jerusalem,
and forgiveness of sins in Zion, (Joel 2:32,)
both must be viewed as referring to the same subject; but the grace of God is more fully extolled when the cause of salvation is declared to consist in a free pardon.4
In this passage the argument is of the same kind; for he says that,
the lambs shall have been separated from the kids,
when Isaiah speaks of those beginnings, he includes, as his custom is, a period extending to the end, when God will bring to perfection that which he then began.
It is the same thing which we see every day going forward; for although chastisements and punishments do not entirely remove all spots from the Church, yet when spots have been washed out, she recovers a part of her purity. Thus she suffers no loss by the strokes inflicted on her; because, while she is diminished, she is at the same time comforted by casting out many hypocrites; just as it is only by casting out the offensive or corrupt matter that a diseased body can be restored to health.
Hence we obtain a most useful consolation; for we are wont always to desire a multitude, and to estimate by it the prosperity of the Church. On the contrary, we should rather desire to be few in number, and that in all of us the glory of God may shine brightly. But because our own glory leads us in another direction, the consequence is, that we regard more a great number of men than the excellence of a few.
We ought also to learn what is the true glory of a Church; for she is truly prosperous when the saints have a place in her; though they be few and despised in the world, yet they render her condition prosperous and desirable. But as it will never happen in the world that the saints alone will hold a place in the Church, we ought patiently to endure a mixture, and, in the meantime, we ought to reckon it a most valuable blessing when she makes a near approach to the cleanness which ought to be found in her.
Rejoice because your names are written in heaven,
and Ezekiel says, They shall not be written in the catalogue of my people.5 Now, although God has no other book than his eternal counsel, in which he has predestinated us to salvation by adopting us for his children, yet this comparison is exceedingly suitable to our weakness, because in no other way could our mind conceive that God's flock is known to him, so that none of the elect can ever be deprived of eternal life. Since, therefore, God has the names of his people in some manner written down, the decree of adoption, by which their eternal blessedness is secured, is called the book of life. The reprobate, though for a time they appear to be on a level with the sons of God, are excluded from this catalogue, as we see that they are cut off when he collects and separates his own people. This matter will not be fully completed before the last day; but as the children of God, by continually persevering, when the reprobate fall off, have their election made sure, it is no small consolation amidst their afflictions, when the temptations by which they are assailed do not cause them to fall from their steadfastness.
pillars of cloud by day and pillars of fire by night.
It was customary with the prophets, in describing any remarkable blessing, to remind them of that deliverance from Egypt as an extraordinary work of God; for on that occasion God made a remarkable display of the boundless treasures of his grace in establishing his Church, and left out no proof of his kindness, in order to make known the happiness of that nation. But what chiefly deserved to be commemorated was, that by the covering of a cloud by day he protected them from excessive heat, and that by night a pillar of fire went before them, to prevent them from wandering or going astray.
It amounts to this, that when God shall bring back the Church from the captivity in Babylon, the deliverance will be of a kind not less striking and magnificent than when, at an early period, the nation went out of Egypt. Not that during their journey from Babylon to Judea they would be accompanied, as in the wilderness, by a cloud and a pillar of fire, but that he would display his grace and kindness by other methods not less remarkable. Just as if we were to say at the present day, "God will enlighten us by his Spirit of fire; He will give cloven tongues, (Acts 2:3,) to spread his Gospel throughout the whole world." Such expressions ought not to be understood literally, as if the Spirit would be sent down from heaven under that visible sign; but by reminding them of the miracle, it would lead believers to expect that the same power of God, which the Apostles formerly experienced, will now be displayed in restoring the Church. Add to this, that the Prophet, by this mode of expression, points out an uninterrupted continuance of blessing; as if he had said, "Not only will God for a moment stretch out his hand for your deliverance, but as he always accompanied your fathers in the wilderness, so likewise he will deliver and protect you to the end."
The sun shall not scorch thee by day, nor the moon by night; for the Lord will preserve thee from all evil. (Psalm 121:6, 7.)
Nothing more is necessary than that we follow our calling, and perform our duty faithfully. It belongs equally to the condition of the good and of the bad that they suffer many inconveniencies; but bad men have no refuge, no place of concealment in which they may hide themselves, and they must be utterly overwhelmed. But blessed is the condition of the godly; for although they endure heat and cold, still they have a safe refuge in God. But that glory of which we formerly spoke must shine in us; otherwise we shall have no share in these things; and if we carry about with us God's mark, whenever we shall be assailed by a tempest, let us rest assured that he will be our protection.
1 Da tantum nomen inane Connubii: liceat tumulo scripsisse, Catonis Marcia. Luc. Phars. 2:342.
2 In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious. -- Eng. Ver. The marginal reading is, beauty and glory. -- Ed.
3 Excellent and comely [Heb. beauty and glory] for them that are escaped of Israel, [Heb. for the escaping of Israel.] -- Eng. Ver.
4 There is a mistake here. In the verse quoted the prophet Joel does not speak of the forgiveness of sins; but our Author probably had his eye on the concluding clause, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call, as resembling a part of this verse, and he that shall be left in Jerusalem, and on this ground adduced it as a parallel passage, but was not successful in pointing out where the parallelism lies. -- Ed.
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