M. L. Andreasen's Isaiah the Gospel Prophet:
The Call to the House of Jacob
Lesson Scripture: Isaiah 2; 3; 4
ISAIAH 2: 1-9. These verses contain the call of the people to “go up to the mountain of the Lord." The parallel scripture is found in Micah 4: 1-3.
At first sight this scripture seems to teach a turning of the nations to the Lord, and the beginning of the millennium when men shall learn war no more. A more careful view, however, makes us hesitate to accept any such conclusion. Some of the reasons for our not accepting the popular interpretation are:
1. Joel presents a message exactly the opposite of this. Instead of beating their swords into plowshares, Joel is commanded to tell the people to beat their plowshares into swords. The message in Joel. is God's command to the prophet. The opposite statement in Isaiah is what “many people" say.. Hence as between what God says and what "many people" say, we accept God's word.
2. Mountains are doubtless symbolic of political powers. In Revelation 17: 9, 10, the seven mountains are seven kings, or kingdoms, - on which the woman sits. In Daniel 2: 35 we are told that the kingdoms of this world are broken to pieces by the stone cut out without hands. The kingdom of God destroys earthly kingdoms. Here in Isaiah we find “the mountain of the Lord's house” "at the head of the mountains" (A.R.V., margin). It is not here destroying the kingdoms of the world, but heading them up, "established in the top of the mountains." Instead of this being God's people, the description rather seems to fit the apostate church spoken of in Revelation 17, who shall sit on the seven mountains. Verse 9.
3. "The house of Jacob" (A.R.V.) as a name for God's people, has a suspicious sound as here used. God has forsaken the house, or children, of Jacob (verse 6), or rather “rejected” them, as the original indicates. The reason for the rejection is that they are “replenished from the east," they are "soothsayers," they "please themselves in" or "strike hands with" (A.R.V.), that is, make alliances with strangers. Also, their land is full of idols and they worship them. From this it seems clear that the house of Jacob here mentioned is not the true people of God, but the false.
We therefore conclude that this prophecy of Isaiah refers to a false movement in the last days. The apostate power shall accept the leadership of the nations, shall "rebuke," "arbitrate for," "will decide concerning" (verse 4, A.R.V., margin), the nations, and “many people," in fact, “all nations shall flow unto it."
Verses 10-22. Events of the day of the Lord. When the day of the Lord shall come, "the lofty looks of man shall be humbled." It will be a dreadful day. Men will crawl into the holes of the rocks when the earth shakes under the majesty of the Lord's presence. “The Lord alone shall be exalted in that day."
Isaiah 3:1-15. God's controversy with Judah and Jerusalem.
God is about to punish His people. He will take away their stay of bread and water. Children will rule over them, and general anarchy and ruin will result. This is because “their tongue and their doings are against the Lord." In this time of trouble God will not forget His own. “The Lord standeth up to plead" for them. They have been beaten to pieces and ground down (verse 15), but in the end it will be well with them. Verse 10.
Isaiah 3: 16 to 4: I, God's controversy with the daughters of Zion.
As long as the women of a nation retain their virtue and integrity, the nation will survive. When women succumb to the vices and practices of men, the nation is doomed. Every child born into the world is given into the charge of some woman who has the first chance to mold and train the little one. As long as women discharge this responsibility in the fear of God, there is hope. When the womanhood of a nation goes wrong, when outward adornment becomes of greater interest to them than inward piety, where shall help be found?
The women here mentioned are not heathen. They are the daughters of Zion, professed Christians. They wish to bear the name of Christ, but will neither dress themselves nor live to please Him. Isa. 4: 1. Instead of Christ's robe of righteousness, they will wear their own apparel. Instead of accepting Him, the bread that came down from heaven (John 6:33), they want to eat their own bread.
Isaiah 4: 26. God's true church in the last days.
These verses deal with the purified church as the latter rain is poured upon them, and with conditions after probation ceases, just before the Lord comes. The remnant, those that “are escaped,"
that are " left," are " beautiful and glorious," for God will have purged away " the filth of the daughters of Zion." This will be done by the “spirit of judgment" and of “burning." “Our God is a consuming fire" (Heb. 12: 29), and His presence in the church will consume away the dross.
Verses 5 and 6 speak of the last year before the Lord comes, the year of the seven last plagues, when God will shield His people as they have sought refuge in solitary places. Over every little group of believers will be seen the cloud by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night, as when God brought His people out of Egypt. When the plagues fall, there will be a place of refuge and a covert from the storm and rain.
Isaiah 2: 5. The “house of Jacob " may here have a special significance. Jacob was the name of a son of Isaac before his conversion. After that his name was Israel. The power here mentioned is the house of Jacob, not Israel. While this point should perhaps not be pressed too far, it is worthy of notice that when God's people are mentioned later on, it is as Israel. Chap. 4:2, 3.
Verse 6. “Soothsayers." We do not know what particular form of divination is here meant. Some translate the word " cloud compellers," that is, rain makers.
Verse 19. “To shake terribly," literally "to terrify the earth." This without doubt is at the time of the great earthquake. Rev. 16: 18.
Isaiah 3: 16. "Mincing as they go, and making a tinkling." The “tinkling " (verse 18) was caused by the "ankle chains " (verse 20, A.R.V.), a short chain uniting the feet, which also caused the “mincing."
Verses 18-24. We do not know what all these ornaments were. Different times give different names to prevailing styles and customs. Among others we find in the A.R.V. the following familiar names: "pendants" instead of "chains;" "sashes" and “perfume boxes" instead of "headbands" and "tablets" (verses 19, 20); "shawls" and "satchels" instead of "wimples" and "crisping pins" (verse 22); "hand mirrors" instead of "glasses" (verse 23). "Well-set hair," of verse 24, literally means "turner's work," artificial curls. Instead of “burning” read “branding," a symbol of slavery.
Lessons for To-day
Isaiah 2: 3. Carefulness is needed in reading the word. We should not attribute to God that which the people say, but should rightly divide the word of truth. 2 Tim. 2: 15.
Verses 3, 4. We should not lightly pass by these verses, thinking that they contain only what the people say. While that is true, yet they are a part of the Bible, and will be just as literally fulfilled as any other part. In the last days the people will say exactly what is here said. The apostate church will regain temporal power, and will take the leadership of nations, and they will flow into it. The whole world will wonder after the beast. Rev. 13:3. And the politico-religious church will arbitrate among the nations and judge them.
Verse 7. " Neither is there any end of their treasures." (See James 5.)
Verse 8. “Worship the work of their own hands." That is true of idols, and it is equally true of science. Men are so infatuated with their own discoveries that they literally worship science.
Verses 10-17. Man's pride shall be brought down. Note upon whom-the day of the Lord will come. There are ten "upons." All of them have reference to some kind of pride. Men worship the work of their own hands. Delving into the secrets of nature, men have found a few grains from the marvelous storehouse of God's wisdom. These they exhibit with pride, and almost think themselves gods. And yet the wisest of men are but as children by the seashore, thinking to empty the ocean with a spoon.
Verse 21. To fear the Lord and to have fear of the Lord are two different experiences. Those who fear the Lord now need have no fear of Him when He comes.
Isaiah 3: 9. Some men can hide their emotions, but none can hide their lives. Their countenances will witness against them. The sins of Sodom will be revealed in their looks. Nature cannot he cheated. And it will surely be “woe unto their soul." They that sin against their body" have rewarded evil unto themselves."
Verses 10, 11. Notice that both the righteous and the wicked merely receive the reward of their doings.
Verse 12. “They which lead thee cause thee to err." What a responsibility it is to be a leader!
Verse 14. God notices every act of oppression, by whomever done.
Verses 16-24. Many of the things here mentioned are in them-
selves perfectly lawful to use and wear. But when anything is worn or used for display, to attract attention, it becomes questionable, though in itself it may serve a useful purpose. We would not, however, recommend that the men spend too much time discussing women's foibles. Let each one look to his own shortcomings.
Isaiah 4: 1. Seven women, one man. Seven is the complete number. "Women " represents a church (Rev. 12: I, 2; 17: 3), but in this case not the true or pure church, for there is a reproach. How true it is to-day that the churches will not accept the bread that came down from heaven, but rather eat their own food — the traditions of men. They want the name, but reject the garment which Christ provides, and hence will be found at last without the wedding garment.
Verse 2. "In that day." Note how often this phrase is repeated in Isaiah.
“The branch of the Lord," the true people of God. John 15: 5.
"Them that are escaped" — the remnant. The last church will have the wedding garment rejected by others. This is what makes the church "beautiful and glorious."
Verse 3. “He that is left," "he that remaineth," — the remnant. It is he that remains that will be saved; the rest are shaken out.
“Among the living." In the early church God took an active part in keeping the church above reproach. Ananias and Sapphira tried to deceive, and they were carried out dead. Acts 5: I-11. Apostolic power for which we pray presupposes apostolic purity. In the days of the apostles "great fear came upon all the church when they heard about Ananias and Sapphira. and "of the rest durst no man join himself to them." Verses 11, 13. It was dangerous in those days for a sinner to belong to the church. Even so in the last days, those that remain, those that are among the living, "shall be called holy, even every one." When God purifies His church, when the Holy Spirit is poured out, it will not be well with the sinners in Zion.
Verse 4. “Washed away the filth." It is not enough that sin be repented of and pardoned; it must be washed away. It is one thing to cover over, to forgive; it is another thing to wash away, to cleanse. The one is righteousness by faith, the other is holiness. God will not only “forgive us our sins," but will also "cleanse." I John I: 9.
“Spirit of burning." This is none other but God, who as a consuming fire "shall suddenly come to His temple." There “He shall sit as a refiner and purifier," for "He is like a refiner's fire,
and like fullers' soap." He "shall . . . purge them as gold and silver." Mal. 3: 1-3. The great question in that day will be, “Who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth?" When God has finished His work, Zion will be "the perfection of beauty." God being in Zion (the church), and having purified it, it will be true that "out of Zion . . God hath shined." Ps. 50: 2.
Verse 5. “Every dwelling place of Mount Zion." In the last year of probation God's people will be scattered all over the earth, many in desolate places and among the mountains. But wherever a small group may be, there the visible sign of God's presence is. What a wonderful time that must be, in spite of the trials and deprivations! We will apparently be permitted to gather in small groups as we flee to the mountains. Men and governments may wish us ill, and starvation and even death may stare us in the face; but with a little group — such as we have learned to love and trust — what precious seasons together may we not even then enjoy, knowing that the pillar of cloud and of fire is with us! (See "The Great Controversy," chapter “The Time of Trouble.")
“Upon all the glory." God's people are here meant. They are "beautiful and glorious." Verse 2.
Verse 6. God will not leave His own. "In the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion: in the secret of His tabernacle shall He hide me." Ps. 27:5.