INTRODUCTION TO ISAIAH 27
This chapter refers to the same times as the two foregoing ones Isaiah 25:1; and is a continuation of the same song, or rather a new one on the same occasion; it is prophetical of the last times, and of what shall be done in them, as the destruction of the antichristian powers, and Satan at the head of them, Isaiah 27:1 the happy state of the church, and its fruitfulness under the care and protection of the Lord, and his affection for it, Isaiah 27:2 its peace, prosperity, and flourishing condition, Isaiah 27:5 the nature, use, and end of all its afflictions and chastisements, Isaiah 27:7 the ruin and destruction of the city of Rome, and its inhabitants, and of its whole jurisdiction, Isaiah 27:10 a great gathering and conversion of the Lord's people, both Jews and Gentiles, by the ministry of the Gospel, Isaiah 27:12.
In that day the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword,.... Meaning either the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, quick and powerful, and sharper than a twoedged sword, Ephesians 6:17 or else some sore judgment of God: some understand it of the Medes and Persians, by whom the Lord would destroy the Babylonish monarchy; or rather it is the great power of God, or his judiciary sentence, and the execution of it, the same with the twoedged sword, which proceeds out of the mouth of the Word of God, by which the antichristian kings and their armies will be slain, Revelation 19:15,
shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent
"he shall punish the king who is magnified as Pharaoh the first, and the king that is exalted as Sennacherib the second, and shall slay the king that is strong as the dragon (or whale) that is in the sea.'
Some are of opinion that only one person or kingdom is here meant, either the king of Egypt, compared to such a sea monster, because of the river Nile, that watered his country; see Ezekiel 29:3 others, the king of Babylon, which city was situated by the river Euphrates, and is described as dwelling on many waters, Jeremiah 51:13 and others the king of Tyre, which was situated in the sea; it seems most likely that all tyrannical oppressors and cruel persecutors of the church are intended, who shall be destroyed; and particularly Rome Pagan, signified by a red dragon, Revelation 12:3 and Rome Papal, by a beast the dragon gave his power to, which rose out of the sea, and by another out of the earth, which spoke like a dragon, Revelation 13:1 both the eastern and western antichrists may be included; the eastern antichrist, the Turk, whose dominions are large, like the waters of the sea; and the western antichrist, the whore of Rome, described as sitting on many waters, Revelation 17:1 both which are comparable to serpents and dragons for their cruelty and poison; moreover, Satan, at the head of all these, called the dragon, the old serpent, and devil, must be taken into the account, who is the last enemy that will be destroyed; he will be taken and bound a thousand years, and then, being loosed, will be retaken, and cast into the lake of fire, where the beast and false prophet be, Revelation 20:1. Kimchi thinks this prophecy belongs to the times of Gog and Magog.
In that day sing ye unto her,.... The congregation of Israel, as the Targum; or rather the church of Christ; for after, and upon the destruction of his and her enemies, there will be great rejoicing and singing alternately, and by responses, as the word signifies; see Revelation 15:1. Gussetius
A vineyard of red wine; as the people of the Jews are compared to one, Isaiah 5:1 so is the church of Christ under the Gospel dispensation; see Song of Solomon 8:11 a vineyard is a spot of ground separated from others, and the church and people of God are separated from the rest of the world by electing, redeeming, and calling grace; a vineyard is a place set with various vines, so is the church; there is Christ the true vine, the principal one, which stands in the first place, John 15:1 and there are particular congregated churches, which belong to the vineyard, the general or catholic church, Song of Solomon 2:13 and there are particular believers that may be so called, Song of Solomon 6:11 moreover, sometimes in vineyards other trees are planted besides vines, as barren fig trees, Luke 13:6 and so there are in the visible church of God nominal believers, carnal professors, trees without fruit; there are no true vines but such as are ingrafted and planted in Christ, and who, through union to him, and abiding in him, bring forth fruit; a vineyard is the property of some one person, as this is of Christ, whose it is by his own choice, by his Father's gift, by inheritance, by purchase, as well as it is of his planting, and under his care; vineyards are valuable, pleasant, and profitable, but exposed to beasts of prey, and therefore to be fenced and guarded; all which may be applied to the church of Christ, which shall, in the latter day especially, be very fruitful, and answer to this character given her in this song, a vineyard "of red wine"; the allusion is to such a vineyard, in which vines grow, that bring forth grapes, productive of the best wine, as the red was reckoned in the eastern countries; see Genesis 49:12 and so Jarchi and Kimchi interpret it; this is a vineyard very different from that in Isaiah 5:5 and from the vine of Israel, Hosea 10:1 the fruit of it, signified by "red wine", may intend the graces of the Spirit, which like grapes, the fruit of the vine, grow in clusters; where one is, all of them are, and come from Christ, the vine, from whom all the fruit of divine grace is found: and which receive their tincture from the blood of Christ, their vigour and their usefulness; and may be said, like wine, to cheer the heart of God and man, Judges 9:13 grace when in exercise is delightful to God and Christ, Song of Solomon 4:9 and gives pleasure to other saints, Psalm 34:1 and as the fruit of the vine must be squeezed ere the liquor can be had, so the graces of the Spirit are tried by afflictive dispensations of Providence, by which the preciousness and usefulness of them are made known; moreover, the fruits of righteousness, or good works, may be also intended, by which the graces of faith and repentance are evidenced, and which, when performed aright, are acceptable to God through Christ, and profitable to men; and for these fruits of grace and good works the church will be famous in the latter day.
I the Lord do keep it,.... The vineyard, the church, not only by his ministers, called the keepers of it, Song of Solomon 8:12 but by himself, by his own power; for unless he keeps it, who is Israel's keeper, the watchmen wake in vain; he keeps his church and people from sin, that it does not reign over them; and from Satan's temptations, that they are not destroyed by them; and from the malice of the world, and the poison of false teachers, that they are not ruined thereby; and from a final and total falling away; the Lord's preservation of his church and people will be very manifest in the latter day:
I will water it every moment; both more immediately with the dews of his grace, and the discoveries of his love; that being like dew, it comes from above, is according to the sovereign will of God, without the desert of man falls in the night, silently, gently, and insensibly, and greatly refreshes and makes fruitful, Hosea 14:5 and more immediately by the ministry of the word and ordinances, by his ministers, the preachers of the Gospel, who water as well as plant, 1 Corinthians 3:6 these are the clouds he sends about to let down the rain of the Gospel upon his church and people, by which they are revived, refreshed, and made fruitful, Isaiah 5:6 and this being done "every moment", shows, as the care of God, and his constant regard to his people, so that without the frequent communications of his grace, and the constant ministration of his word and ordinances, they would wither and become fruitless; but, by means of these, they are as a watered garden, whose springs fail not, Isaiah 58:11,
lest any hurt it; as would Satan, who goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour; and the men of the world, who are the boar out of the wood, and the wild beast out of the field, that would waste and destroy the vineyard; and false teachers, who are the foxes that would spoil the vines, 1 Peter 5:8 but, to prevent any such hurt and damage, the Lord undertakes to keep the church, his vineyard, himself, which he repeats with some addition, to declare the certainty of it; or, "lest he visit it"
I will keep it night and day; that is, continually, for he never slumbers nor sleeps; he has kept, and will keep, his church and people, through all the vicissitudes of night and day, of adversity and prosperity, they come into: how great is the condescension of the Lord to take upon him the irrigation and preservation of his people! how dear and precious must they be to him! and what a privilege is it to be in such a plantation as this, watered and defended by the Lord himself!
Fury is not in me,.... Against his vineyard he takes so much care of, his church and people, whom he has loved with an everlasting love; they are indeed deserving of his wrath, but he has not appointed them to it, but has appointed his Son to bear it for them, who has delivered them from wrath to come, and they being justified by his blood and righteousness, are saved from it; and though the Lord chastises them for their sins, yet not in wrath and sore displeasure; there is no wrath or fury in his heart towards them, nor any expressed in the dispensations of his providence:
who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle? either suggesting the weakness of his people, who, was he to deal with them as their sins and corruptions deserved, for which they may be compared to thorns and briers, they would be as unable to bear his wrath and fury as briers and thorns could to withstand a consuming fire; or rather intimating, that should such persons rise up in his vineyard, the church, as often do, comparable to briers and thorns for their unfruitfulness and unprofitableness, for the hurt and mischief they do, and the grief and trouble they give to the people of God, as hypocrites and false teachers, and all such as are of unsound principles, and bad lives and conversations, and which are very offensive to the Lord; and therefore, though there is no fury in him against his vineyard, the church, yet there is against those briers and thorns, wicked men, whom he accounts his enemies, and will fight against them in his wrath, and consume them in his fury; see 2 Samuel 23:6,
I would go through them: or, "step into it"
I would burn them together; or, "I would burn" out of it
Or let him take hold of my strength,.... Not on the law, as the Targum and Kimchi; but on Christ, as Jerom rightly interprets it; who is the strength and power of God, the man of his right hand he has made strong for himself; a strong tower, as the word signifies, a rock of defence, to whom saints may betake themselves, and be safe; in him they have righteousness and strength; in him is everlasting strength. The sense is, let the people of God, any and everyone of them, when afflicted and chastised by him particularly, and are ready to conclude that he is wroth with them, and is dealing with them in hot displeasure; let such look to Christ, and lay hold, and a strong hold, on him by faith, which will be greatly to their advantage and support. The Targum and Jarchi render או, translated "or", by "if"; and then the words are to be read thus, "if he will", or "should, take hold of my strength", or fortress
that he may make peace with me, and he shall make peace with me; or rather, "he shall make peace with me, peace shall he make with me". The phrase is doubled for the certainty of it; and the meaning is, not that the believer who lays hold by faith on Christ, Jehovah's strength, shall make peace with him; which is not in the power of any person to do, no, not the believer by his faith, repentance, or good works; but Christ the power of God, on whom he lays hold, he shall make peace, as he has, by the blood of his cross, and as the only peacemaker; and hereby the believer may see himself reconciled to God, and at peace with him; and therefore may comfortably conclude, under every providence, that there is no fury in God towards him.
He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root,.... That is, the posterity of Jacob, the seed of Israel, in a spiritual sense; such who are Israelites indeed, in whom there is no guile; these shall be so far from being plucked up, or rooted out of the vineyard, the church, that they shall take deeper root, and their roots shall spread yet more and more; they shall be rooted and grounded in the love of God, and also in Christ, and be built up in him, as well as firmly settled and established in the church, Ephesians 3:17 or, "them that come to Jacob
Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit; which may be understood of the fruits of grace and righteousness, which shall appear upon the people of God, in all parts of the world; or of the great number of converts everywhere; so the Targum, by "fruit", understands children's children; the sense is, that when the church of God, in the latter day, is settled and established, grounded in Christ, and in the doctrines of grace, it shall be in very flourishing and fruitful circumstances, abounding in grace and good works, and with numbers of converts; it shall be like the mustard tree, when it becomes so great a tree as that the birds of the air make their nests in it; and as the stone cut out of the mountain without hands, when it becomes a great mountain, and fills the whole earth, Matthew 13:31 compare with this Isaiah 37:31.
Hath he smitten him, as he smote those that smote him?.... No; the Lord does smite his people by afflictive dispensations of his providence; he smites them in their persons, and families, and estates; see Isaiah 57:17 as he smote Israel, by suffering them to be carried captive, and as the Jews are now smitten by him in their present state; yet not as he smote Pharaoh, with his ten plagues, and him and his host at the Red Sea; or as he smote Sennacherib and his army, by an angel, in one night; or as Amalek was smitten, and its memory perished; or as he will smite mystical Babylon, which will be utterly destroyed; all which have been smiters of God's Israel, who, though smitten of God, yet not utterly destroyed; the Jews returned from captivity, and, though now they are scattered abroad, yet continue a people, and will be saved. God deals differently with his own people, his mystical and spiritual Israel, than with their enemies that smite them: he afflicts them, but does not destroy them, as he does their enemies; he has no fury in him towards his people, but he stirs up all his wrath against his enemies:
or, is he slain according to the slaughter of them that are slain by him? or, "of his slain"
In measure, when it shooteth forth, thou wilt debate with it,.... Or, "when he sendeth it forth"
he stayeth his rough wind in the day of his east wind: when afflictions, like a blustering and blasting east wind, threaten much mischief, and to carry all before them, Jehovah, from whom they have their commission, and who holds the winds in his fist, represses them, stops the violence of them, and gradually abates the force of them, and quite stills them, when they have answered the end for which they are sent: or "he meditateth"
By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged,.... Or "expiated", or "atoned"
and this is all the fruit, to take away sin; this is the design and use of afflictions, the profit and advantage of them to the saints, that, being humbled for their sins, they depart from them, leave and forsake them; as well as the guilt of them is taken away from their consciences, through the application of pardoning grace, upon their repentance; see Job 36:8 this shows another difference between the afflictions of God's people and of others: namely, in the use and end of them. The sin of idolatry seems to be particularly designed by what follows; unless the sin of the present Jews, in their disbelief and rejection of the Messiah, should be rather intended; which, through their long affliction, they will be convinced of in the latter day, and it will be taken away from them, and be purged and expiated through the atoning sacrifice of Christ, the Saviour and Deliverer, they will embrace, Romans 11:25,
when he maketh all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten in sunder; that is, when Jacob, or the people of the Jews, being convinced of their idolatry by their afflictions, shall pull down all their idolatrous altars; perhaps particularly referring to that which Ahaz made, 2 Kings 16:10 and remove the stones thereof, and break them to pieces, as chalkstones for lime, which is easily done:
the groves and the images shall not stand up; erect, to be worshipped; but shall be thrown down, demolished, and broke to pieces; and, by thus abandoning their idols and idolatrous practices, they will show the sense they have of their sins, and the sincerity of their repentance; and it is to be observed, that the Jews, after their return from the Babylonish captivity, never practised idolatry more, not in the literal sense; perhaps some respect may be had here to the time when they shall look on him whom they have pierced, and mourn; and when they shall renounce all their legal sacrifices, traditions of the elders, and their own righteousness, their idols, and look alone to the sacrifice of Christ, and declare against all the idolatry of the church of Rome, and all antichristian worship.
Yet the defenced city shall be desolate,.... Or "but", or "notwithstanding"
and the habitation forsaken and left like a wilderness; or "habitations"; the singular for the plural; even beautiful ones, as the word
there shall the calf feed: not Ephraim, as Jarchi, from Jeremiah 31:18 nor the king of Egypt, as Kimchi, from Jeremiah 46:20 nor the righteous that shall attack the city, and spoil its substance, as the Targum; see Psalm 68:30 but literally, and which is put for all other cattle, or beasts of the field, that should feed here, without any molestation or disturbance:
there shall he lie down, and consume the branches thereof; which the Targum interprets of the army belonging to the city; it denotes the utter destruction of it, and its inhabitants; see Revelation 18:2. Some of the Jewish writers
When the boughs thereof are withered, they shall be broken off,.... This city is compared to a tree, whose branches are not only gnawed and consumed by cattle, as in the former verse Isaiah 27:10; but which, in a hot dry summer, are withered and dried up, and so are easily broken, and are fit for nothing but the fire; hence it follows:
the women come and set them on fire; or "gather" them
"women shall come into the house of their gods, and teach them;'
as the woman Jezebel does, Revelation 2:20 the former sense is best:
for it is a people of no understanding; or "understandings": that is, the people that inhabit the above city, they are sottish and stupid, have no understanding of God and divine things, of the Scriptures, and the doctrines of them; among whom this maxim obtains, that ignorance is the mother of devotion; they are under a judicial blindness, are given up to strong delusions to believe a lie, 2 Thessalonians 2:10,
therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them; and he that formed them will show them no favour; but his wrath shall be poured out upon them to the uttermost, which will be fulfilled in the seven vials, and in the destruction of Rome, and the everlasting ruin of the worshippers of the man of sin; see Revelation 16:1 no argument can be taken from men's being God's creatures and offspring, and from his being the former and maker of them, to their salvation; or because they are so, therefore shall be saved when they are sinful and sottish; for, being like brutes without understanding, they shall perish as they, without mercy.
And it shall come to pass in that day,.... When the song will be sung, Isaiah 27:2 when God will appear to have taken particular care of his church, and is about to bring it into a flourishing condition; when its troubles and afflictions will come to an end, with a sanctified use of them; and when the city of Rome will be destroyed, and all the antichristian powers, then will be the conversion of the Jews; for antichrist stands in the way of that work:
that the Lord shall beat off; or "beat out"
from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt; from the river Euphrates, on the banks of which was the city of Babylon, to the river Nile in Egypt, which were the limits and boundaries of the land of Israel, Deuteronomy 11:24 and in which places many Jews
"from the ditch of the river to Rhinocorura;'
which, Jerom says, is a town on the borders of Egypt and Palestine. The meaning is, that the Lord would find out his people, wherever they were, in those parts, and separate and call them by his grace, and gather them to himself, and to his church and people, as follows:
and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel; as fruit is gathered up, when beaten off of the tree; and the phrase "one by one" denotes either the fewness of them, and the gradual manner in which they will be gathered; or rather, since this does not so well suit with the conversion of the Jews, which will be of a nation at once, it may signify the completeness of this work, that they shall be everyone gathered, not one shall be left or lost, but all Israel shall be saved; or it may be also expressive of the conjunction of them, and union of them one to another, in the Gospel church state, into which they shall be gathered, as fruit beaten off, and gathered up, is laid together in a storehouse. To this sense agrees the Targum,
"ye shall be brought near one to another, O ye children of Israel
And it shall come to pass in that day,.... When the Lord is about to do the above things, and in order to it. The Talmudists
that the great trumpet shall be blown; meaning not the edict or proclamation of Cyrus, but the ministration of the Gospel, called a "trumpet", in allusion to those that were ordered by Moses to be made for the congregation of Israel, Numbers 10:1, or to the jubilee trumpet, Leviticus 25:9 or with respect to any trumpet giving a musical sound; the Gospel being a joyful sound, a sound of love, grace, and mercy through Christ, of peace, pardon, righteousness, and salvation by him; and which may be called a "great" one, the author of it, God, being great; and it is the effect of great love, and the produce of great wisdom; it proclaims and publishes great things, great promises, great truths, and a great salvation; it gives a great sound, which has and will again go into all the world, and reach to the ends of the earth; and has been, and will be, attended with great power; the "blowing" of it intends the ministry of the word, which to perform aright requires ability and skill; and here it respects the ministration of it in the latter day, when this Gospel trumpet will be blown more clearly, and without any jar, discord, and confusion; and more loudly, openly, and publicly; and more effectually, and to greater purpose:
and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt; all mankind are in a perishing condition, but all are not sensible of it; some are, and they become so through the preaching of the word, attended with the power and Spirit of God; whereby they are convinced of sin, and of their lost estate by nature; their consciences are loaded with guilt, their souls are filled with a sense of wrath; they have a sight of sin, but not of a Saviour from it, or of the pardon of it; they have a view of a broken law, which curses and condemns, and of injured justice brandishing its sword against them, but see they have no righteousness to satisfy one or the other; and find themselves in a starving condition, ready to perish with hunger; and are like the wretched infant "cast out" into the open field, to the "loathing" of its person: and these now, whether in Assyria or in Egypt, or wherever they are, the Gospel trumpet will reach them, and encourage them to come; and powerful and efficacious grace accompanying it will engage and cause them to "come" first to Christ as poor perishing sinners, and venture their souls on him for life and salvation; they shall come to him in a way of believing, for pardon, cleansing, rest, food, righteousness, and life; and then they shall come to his churches, and give up themselves unto them, to walk with them:
and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem; in the Gospel church, signified frequently by Mount Zion and Jerusalem; see Hebrews 12:22 where the Jews shall come, when converted, and join themselves, and worship God internally and externally, in spirit and in truth: and it may be true of Mount Zion, and of Jerusalem, in a literal sense, which will be rebuilt, and inhabited by the Jews, and become a place of divine worship.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 27". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://pro.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany