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FRAMEWORKS: Isaiah 57: Rebuke and Comfort


Part 1: v.1-13: Rebuke for Idol Worship

Part 2: v.14-21: Comfort for the contrite


[Preliminary notes: This prophecy, made up of rebuke [v.1-13] and comforting assurance [v.14-21], starts with the observation that when the righteous die it is to spare them [v.1,2], to spare them being caught up in the rebuke to the rest of the people who are taken up with spiritual adultery, idol worship [v.3-10], failing to fear [v.11] the God who will expose them for what they are [v.12], followers of idols who can't help them [v.13].

At that point the prophecy turns to become a source of hope and comfort as the Lord calls for a way back to be provided [v.14] for the lowly and contrite [v.15]. He won't keep on at them [v.16] for having to be a part of those with whom He had been angry [v.17] but now He comes to comfort those who mourn over Israel's state [v.18,19] but, He reminds the rest, this is not for those who remain in their wickedness [v.20,21].

So, a warning to idolaters and those determined to remain in their wickedness, but hope and comfort for those who repent, who humble themselves before God.]



Part 1: v.1-13: Rebuke for Idol Worship


v.1 The good disappear without anyone taking note

v.1  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.

v.2 The righteous die to find peace in death

v.Those who walk uprightly
    enter into peace;
    they find rest as they lie in death.


v.3 But as for the rest of you!!!

v.3  ‘But you – come here, you children of a sorceress,
    you offspring of adulterers and prostitutes!

v.4 How do you think you can get away with your bad attitudes

v.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?

v.5 You yearn after idols, foreign gods and even sacrifice your own children

v.5  You burn with lust among the oaks
    and under every spreading tree;
you sacrifice your children in the ravines
    and under the overhanging crags.

v.6 I see your idols on which you pour drink offerings to false gods

v.6  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?

v.7 Your home is in the hidden places of false worship

v.7  You have made your bed on a high and lofty hill;
    there you went up to offer your sacrifices.

v.8 You hide away worshipping your false gods

v.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.

v.9 You've reached out to foreign gods

v.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!

v.10 You haven't found life in them, just weariness

v.10  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.


v.11 How come you've feared them more than me, the Living God

v.11  ‘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?

v.12 I will reveal all

v.12  I will expose your righteousness and your works,
    and they will not benefit you.

v.13 Your idols won't save you, only I can

v.13  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.'



Part 2: v.14-21: Comfort for the contrite


v.14 The word will go out, make way for my people

v.14  And it will be said:

‘Build up, build up, prepare the road!
    Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.'

v.15 God says He's looking for the humble penitent

v.15  For this is what the high and exalted One says –
    he who lives for ever, 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.

v.16 He won't keep on accusing for that would wear them out

v.16  I will not accuse them for ever,
    nor will I always be angry,
for then they would faint away because of me –
    the very people I have created.

v.17 He was angered by bad attitudes and behaviour…

v.17  I was enraged by their sinful greed;
    I punished them, and hid my face in anger,
    yet they kept on in their wilful ways.

v.18,19 …but brings comfort, praise & peace for those who mourn Israel…

v.18  I have seen their ways, but I will heal them;
    I will guide them and restore comfort to Israel's mourners,
v.19   creating praise on their lips.
Peace, peace, to those far and near,'
    says the Lord. ‘And I will heal them.'

v.20,21 …but not for the wicked

v.20  But the wicked are like the tossing sea,
    which cannot rest,
    whose waves cast up mire and mud.

v.21  ‘There is no peace,' says my God, ‘for the wicked.' [also 48:22]



Continue to Chapter 58