The sinful rebellious nation (Isa 58:1-58:2)

“Shout out!

Do not hold back!

Lift up your voice

Like a trumpet!

Announce to my people

Their rebellion!

Announce to the house of Jacob

Their sins!

Yet they seek me daily.

They delight to know my ways,

As if they were a nation

That practiced righteousness,

As if they did not forsake

The ordinance of their God.

They ask of me

Righteous judgments.

They delight to draw near to God.”

Third Isaiah wants the house of Jacob to shout out and not hold back. They should lift up their voices, as if it was like a trumpet. However, the announcement was that they were a sinful rebellious people. They have pretended to act righteously. They profess daily that they delight in God’s ways. Meanwhile, they are a nation that has forsaken the ordinances of God. They want righteous judgments. They say that they want to draw near to God, but they do not follow his laws.

Peace (Isa 57:19-57:21)

“‘Peace!

Peace!

Peace to those far away!

Peace to those near!’

Says Yahweh.

‘I will heal them.

But the wicked are

Like the tossing sea.

It cannot keep still.

Its waters toss up mire.

Its waters toss up dirt.

There is no peace

For the wicked!’

Says my God.”

Third Isaiah ends this chapter with a cry for peace. Peace will be with those near and far. Yahweh was going to heal them and bring them peace. However, the wicked would not have any peace. They are like a tossing sea that keeps throwing up mire and dirt, so that there is no hope for them.

The wrath of Yahweh (Isa 57:16-57:18)

“I will not continually accuse.

I will not always be angry.

The spirits would grow faint before me,

Even the souls that I have made.

Because of their wicked covetousness,

I was angry!

I struck them!

I hid!

I was angry!

But they kept turning back

To their own ways.

I have seen their ways.

But I will heal them.

I will lead them.

I will repay them with comfort.

I will create

For their mourners

The fruit of their lips.”

Third Isaiah says that the wrath of Yahweh will not exist forever. He is not going to be angry all the time. He will stop accusing them. Otherwise their spirits would grow faint, even his own beloved ones. Their covetousness had made Yahweh angry. He hid from them. He struck them, but they kept turning back to their evil ways. Yahweh was going to heal them. He was going to be their leader and comfort them. He would help the mourners. The wrath of God would subside.

 

Poem of consolation (Isa 57:14-57:15)

“It shall be said.

‘Build up!

Build up!

Prepare the way!

Remove every obstruction

From my people’s way.’

Thus says the high lofty One

Who inhabits eternity,

Whose name is Holy.

‘I dwell in the high holy place.

I also dwell with those

Who are contrite,

Who are humble in spirit,

In order to revive

The spirit of the humble,

In order to revive

The heart of the contrite.’”

Third Isaiah says that they should build up the way for God’s people. They were to prepare this way by removing all obstructions. Then the one holy eternal one said that he dwelt in his high holy place. However, he also dwelt with the contrite and the humble of spirit. He wanted to revive the spirit of the humble and the heart of the contrite.

Against idolaters (Isa 57:11-57:13)

“Whom did you dread?

Whom did you fear?

Thus you lied.

You did not remember me.

You did not give me a thought.

Have I not kept silent?

Have I not closed by eyes?

Thus you do not fear me.

I will concede your righteousness.

I will concede your works.

But they will not help you.

When you cry out,

Let your collection of idols

Deliver you!

The wind will carry them off.

A breath will take them away.

Whoever takes refuge in me

Shall possess the land.

They shall inherit

My holy mountain.”

Third Isaiah warns in the first person singular what Yahweh has done with these idolaters. They no longer dreaded or feared Yahweh. They had lied to him. They did not remember or give him any thought. Yahweh had been silent and closed his eyes, so that they no longer feared him. Even though they might have been righteous and done some good things, these actions would no longer help them. If they had a problem, let them call their collection of idols to help them. The wind will carry away their useless idols. On the other hand, anyone who takes refuge in Yahweh will possess the land. They will inherit his holy mountain.

Against Molech (Isa 57:9-57:10)

“You journeyed to Molech

With oil.

You multiplied your perfumes.

You sent your envoys far away.

You sent them down even to Sheol.

You grew weary

From your many wanderings.

But you did not say.

‘It is useless.’

You found your desire rekindled.

Thus you did not weaken.”

Third Isaiah was also against Molech, a local Canaanite god that must have had a lot of Israelite worshippers. Apparently, many worshippers of Molech brought oils and perfumes to offer to Molech, who was sometimes associated with the Baal temples and altars. They sent messengers that were willing to go to Sheol, the afterlife underworld. However, they grew weary from their many trips. However, they were not able to say that it was useless. In fact, they rekindled their desire for Molech, instead of weakening it.

Against the sexual immorality of idolatry (Isa 57:7-57:8)

“Upon a high lofty mountain

You have set your bed.

There you went up to offer sacrifice.

Behind the door,

Behind the doorpost

You have set up your symbol.

In deserting me,

You have uncovered your bed.

You have gone up to it.

You have made it wide.

You have made a bargain

For yourself with them.

You have loved their bed.

You have gazed on their nakedness.”

Third Isaiah speaks out against the sexual immorality of this idol worship. On a high mountain of worship there would be a bed. With the symbol of the idol behind the door or the doorpost, there they opened their wide bed to others. Thus, they deserted Yahweh when they offered their sacrifices. They made a bargain with their sexual partners, where they loved and gazed on each other’s nakedness. These were the implications of sexual immoral acts of naked bodies in a bed.

Against fertility cults (Isa 57:5-57:6)

“You burn with lust

Among the oak trees,

Under every green tree.

You slaughter your children

In the valleys

Under the clefts of the rocks.

Among the smooth stones of the valley

Is your portion.

They are your lot.

You have poured out a drink offering

To them.

You have brought a cereal offering

To them.

Shall I be appeased for these things?”

Third Isaiah strongly speaks out against the persistent fertility cults among the Israelites. They lusted among the green oak trees that were considered fertility oak trees. They killed their children among the valley gods under the caves in the rocks. They brought drink offerings and cereal offerings to the altar of these gods of the hills and the valleys. What was Yahweh to do with them? How would he be appeased?

The wicked ones (Isa 57:3-57:4)

“But as for you!

Come here!

You children of a sorceress!

You offspring of an adulterer!

You offspring of a whore!

Whom are you mocking?

Against whom

Do you open your mouth wide?

Against whom

Do you stick out your tongue?

Are you not

The children of transgression?

Are you not

The offspring of deceit?”

Now Third Isaiah has a tirade against the wicked Israelites. They are the children of sorceress, adulterers, and whores. What can you expect from them? They mock others. They open their mouths wide. They stick out their tongues. They are the children of transgressions and deceit. These are the illegitimate children of Israel, the apostates, those who do not follow the law, the wicked ones.

The death of the righteous ones (Isa 57:1-57:2)

“The righteous perish.

No one takes it to heart.

The devout ones are taken away,

While no one understands.

The righteous ones

Are taken away from calamity.

They enter into peace.

Those who walk uprightly

Will rest on their couches.”

Third Isaiah seems to think that the no one seems to care about the death of the righteous Israelites. No one takes it to heart or understands what is happening. The righteous will be taken away from this present calamity. Those who walk upright will enter into peace, so that they can rest in their couch graves.