Isaiah 25:7
And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) The face of the covering cast over all people . . .—To cover the face was, in the East, a sign of mourning for the dead (2Samuel 19:4); and to destroy that covering is to overcome death, of which it is thus the symbol. With this there probably mingled another, though kindred, thought. The man whose face is thus covered cannot see the light, and the “covering” represents the veil (2Corinthians 3:15) which hinders men from knowing God. The final victory of God includes a triumph over ignorance and sorrow, as well as over sin and death.

Isaiah

‘IN THIS MOUNTAIN’

THE VEIL OVER ALL NATIONS

Isaiah 25:7
.

The previous chapter closes with a prediction of the reign of Jehovah in Mount Zion ‘before His elders’ in Glory. The allusion apparently is to the elders being summoned up to the Mount and seeing the Glory, ‘as the body of heaven in its clearness.’ The veil in this verse is probably a similar allusion to that which covered Moses’ face. It will then be an emblem of that which obscures for ‘all nations the face of God.’ And what is that but sin?

I. Sin veils God from men’s sight.

It is not the necessary inadequacy of the finite mind to conceive of the Infinite that most tragically hides God from us. That inadequacy is compatible with true and sufficient knowledge of Him. Nor is it ‘the veils of flesh and sense,’ as we often hear it said, that hide Him. But it is our sinful moral nature that darkens His face and dulls our eyes. ‘Knowledge’ of God, being knowledge of a Person, is not merely an intellectual process. It is much more truly acquaintance than comprehension; and as such, requires, as all acquaintance does, some foundation of sympathy and appreciation.

Every sin darkens the witness to God in ourselves, In a pure nature, conscience would perfectly reveal God; but we all know too sadly and intimately how it is gradually silenced, and fails to discriminate between what pleases and what displeases God. In a pure nature, the obedient Will would perfectly reveal God and the man’s dependence on Him. We all know how sin weakens that.

Every sin diminishes our power of seeing Him in His external Revelation. Every sin ruffles the surface of the soul, which is a mirror reflecting the light that streams from Creation, from Providence, from History. A mass of black rock flung into a still lake shatters the images of the girdling woods and the overarching sky.

Every sin bribes us to forget God. It becomes our interest, as we fancy, to shut Him out of our thoughts. Adam’s impulse is to carry his guilty secret with him into hiding among the trees of the garden. We cannot shake off His presence, but we can-and when we have sinned, we have but too good reason to exercise the power-we can dismiss the thought of Him. ‘They did not like to retain God in their knowledge.’

Individual sins may seem of small moment, but an opaque veil can be woven out of very fine thread.

II. To veil God from our sight is fatal.

We imagine that to forget Him leaves us undisturbed in following aims disapproved by Him, and we spend effort to secure that false peace by fierce absorption in other pursuits, and impatient shaking off of all that might wake our sleeping consciousness of Him.

But what unconscious self-murder that is, which we take such pains to achieve! To know God is life eternal; to lose Him from our sight is to condemn all that is best in our nature, all that is most conducive to blessedness, tranquillity, and strenuousness in our lives, to languish and die. Every creature separated from God is cut off from the fountain of life, and loses the life it drew from the fountain, of whatever kind that life is. And that in man which is most of kin with God languishes most when so cut off. And when we have blocked Him out from our field of vision, all that remains for us to look at suffers degradation, and becomes phantasmal, poor, unworthy to detain, and impotent to satisfy, our hungry vision.

III. The Veil is done away in Christ.

He shows us God, instead of our own false conceptions of Him, which are but distorted refractions of His true likeness. Only within the limits of Christ’s revelation is there knowledge of God, as distinguished from guesses, doubtful inferences, partial glimpses. Elsewhere, the greatest certitude as to Him is a ‘peradventure’; Jesus alone says ‘Verily, verily.’

Jesus makes us able to see God.

Jesus makes us delight in seeing Him.

All dread of the ‘steady whole of the Judge’s face’ is changed to the loving heart’s joy in seeing its Beloved.

IV. The Veil is wholly removed hereafter.

The prophecy from which the text is taken is obviously not yet fulfilled. It waits for the perfect condition of redeemed manhood in another life. But even then, the chief reason why the Christian is warranted in cherishing an unpresumptuous hope that he will know even as he is known is not that then he will have dropped the veil of flesh and sense, but that he will have dropped the thicker, more stifling covering of sin, and, being perfectly like God, will be able perfectly to gaze on Him, and, perfectly gazing on Him, will grow ever more perfectly like Him.

The choice for each of us is whether the veil will thicken till it darkens the Face altogether, and that is death; or whether it will thin away till the last filmy remnant is gone, and ‘we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.’25:6-8 The kind reception of repentant sinners, is often in the New Testament likened to a feast. The guests invited are all people, Gentiles as well as Jews. There is that in the gospel which strengthens and makes glad the heart, and is fit for those who are under convictions of sin, and mourning for it. There is a veil spread over all nations, for all sat in darkness. But this veil the Lord will destroy, by the light of his gospel shining in the world, and the power of his Spirit opening men's eyes to receive it. He will raise those to spiritual life who were long dead in trespasses and sins. Christ will himself, in his resurrection, triumph over death. Grief shall be banished; there shall be perfect and endless joy. Those that mourn for sin shall be comforted. Those who suffer for Christ shall have consolations. But in the joys of heaven, and not short of them, will fully be brought to pass this saying, God shall wipe away all tears. The hope of this should now do away over-sorrow, all weeping that hinders sowing. Sometimes, in this world God takes away the reproach of his people from among men; however, it will be done fully at the great day. Let us patiently bear sorrow and shame now; both will be done away shortly.And he will destroy - Hebrew, 'He will swallow up,' that is, he will abolish, remove, or take away.

In this mountain the face of the covering - In mount Zion, or in Jerusalem. This would be done in Jerusalem, or on the mountains of which Jerusalem was a part, where the great transactions of the plan of redemption would be accomplished. The word 'face' here is used as it is frequently among the Hebrews, where the face of a thing denotes its aspect. or appearance, and then the thing itself. Thus 'the face of God' is put for God himself; the 'face of the earth' for the earth itself; and the 'face of the vail' means the veil itself, or the appearance of the veil. To cover the head or the face was a common mode of expressing grief (see 2 Samuel 15:30; 2 Samuel 19:5; Esther 6:12). It is probable that the expression here is taken from this custom, and the veil over the nations here is to be understood as expressive of the ignorance, superstition, crime, and wretchedness that covered the earth.

7. face of … covering—image from mourning, in which it was usual to cover the face with a veil (2Sa 15:30). "Face of covering," that is, the covering itself; as in Job 41:13, "the face of his garment," the garment itself. The covering or veil is the mist of ignorance as to a future state, and the way to eternal life, which enveloped the nations (Eph 4:18) and the unbelieving Jew (2Co 3:15). The Jew, however, is first to be converted before the conversion of "all nations"; for it is "in this mountain," namely, Zion, that the latter are to have the veil taken off (Ps 102:13, 15, 16, 21, 22; Ro 11:12). The face of the covering; which is put either,

1. For the covering of the face, by an hypallage, as silver of shekels is put for shekels of silver, Leviticus 5:15; or,

2. For the covering or

veil, as the next clause expounds it; the word face being oft superfluously used in the Hebrew language, as Genesis 1:2,29, and elsewhere. The veil; the veil of ignorance of God, and of the true religion, which then was upon the Gentiles, and now is upon the Jews, 2 Corinthians 3:14-16, which, like a veil, covers men’s eyes, and keeps them from discerning between things that differ. It may be also an allusion either to the veil which was put upon Moses’s face, Exodus 34:33,34, or to the veil of the sanctuary, by which the persons without it were kept from the sight of the ark. This is a manifest prophecy concerning the illumination and conversion of the Gentiles. And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people,.... Or, "the covering of the face" (f); that which has covered the face of all people; that darkness which has been spread over them, partly by Mahomet, and his Alcoran, and partly by the pope of Rome, and his party; the covering of human doctrines and traditions seems chiefly intended, which now will be removed, as well as all Pagan and Mahometan darkness, through the clear ministration of the everlasting Gospel, which will be spread with power, and in its purity, throughout the whole world; see Isaiah 60:1 more especially this may respect the light and glory of the New Jerusalem state, in which Christ will be the light thereof, and the nations of them that are saved shall walk in it, and Satan will be bound a thousand years, that he may not deceive the nations any more, Revelation 21:23.

and the veil that is spread over all nations; meaning the same as before; the veil or covering of darkness and ignorance, with which the nations are covered, either Papal, Pagan, and Mahometan; particularly, respect may be had to the veil that is upon the Jewish nation, which remains to this day, and will be taken off when it shall turn to the Lord, 2 Corinthians 3:13 this may be said in allusion to the veil on Moses's face, when he spake to the people, Exodus 34:33 as the former expression may be to the covering or wrapper about the face of dead men, John 11:44 for they that sit in spiritual darkness, are in the region of the shadow of death.

(f) "velum faciei", Piscator.

And he will destroy on this mountain {i} the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations.

(i) Meaning, that ignorance and blindness, by which we are kept back from Christ.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7. the face of the covering … nations] More literally: the surface of the veil that veils all the peoples, and the covering that is woven over all the nations. The phrase “surface of the veil” is peculiar, but a similar expression is found in Job 41:13. It is probably to be explained as gen. of apposition—“the veil-surface.” The veil is not, as might be supposed, a symbol of spiritual blindness (2 Corinthians 3:14 ff.), but of sorrow; the figure being taken from the practice of covering the head in token of mourning (see 2 Samuel 15:30; 2 Samuel 19:4; Jeremiah 14:3-4; Esther 6:12). The prophet has already spoken of the profound wretchedness in which the world is plunged (ch. Isaiah 24:7-12).Verse 7. - He will destroy... the face of the covering. According to some, the "covering cast ever all people" is death, and the second clause of the verse is a mere repetition of the first. But, though the heads of criminals were covered when they were led to execution (Esther 7:8), yet death itself is never elsewhere called a "covering." May not the prophet have in view that "veil" or "covering" of misconception and prejudice, whereof St. Paul speaks as lying "on the hearts of the Jewish nation," and preventing them from discerning the true sense of Scripture (2 Corinthians 3:15)? Certainly one of the great curses of humanity while here is its inability to see things as they really are - its colored, distorted, prejudiced, views of life and death, of this world and the next, of self-interest, duty, happiness. This "veil" is certainly to be done away; for "now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face; now we know in part, but then shall we know even as we are known" (2 Corinthians 13:12). The first echo is Isaiah 25:1-8, or more precisely Isaiah 25:1-5. The prophet, whom we already know as a psalmist from Isaiah 12:1-6, now acts as choral leader of the church of the future, and praises Jehovah for having destroyed the mighty imperial city, and proved Himself a defence and shield against its tyranny towards His oppressed church. "Jehovah, Thou art my God; I will exalt Thee, I will praise Thy name, that Thou hast wrought wonders, counsels from afar, sincerity, truth. For Thou hast turned it from a city into a heap of stones, the steep castle into a ruin; the palace of the barbarians from being a city, to be rebuilt no more for ever. Therefore a wild people will honour Thee, cities of violent nations fear Thee. For Thou provedst Thyself a stronghold to the lowly, a stronghold to the poor in his distress, as a shelter from the storm of rain, as a shadow from the burning of the sun; for the blast of violent ones was like a storm of rain against a wall. Like the burning of the sun in a parched land, Thou subduest the noise of the barbarians; (like) the burning of the sun through the shadow of a cloud, the triumphal song of violent ones was brought low." The introductory clause is to be understood as in Psalm 118:28 : Jehovah (voc.), my God art Thou. "Thou hast wrought wonders:" this is taken from Exodus 15:11 (as in Psalm 77:15; Psalm 78:12; like Isaiah 12:2, from Exodus 15:2). The wonders which are now actually wrought are "counsels from afar" (mērâcōk), counsels already adopted afar off, i.e., long before, thoughts of God belonging to the olden time; the same ideal view as in Isaiah 22:11; Isaiah 37:26 (a parallel which coincides with our passage on every side), and, in fact, throughout the whole of the second part. It is the manifold "counsel" of the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 5:19; Isaiah 14:24-27; Isaiah 19:12, Isaiah 19:17; Isaiah 23:8; Isaiah 28:29) which displays its wonders in the events of time. To the verb עשׂית we have also a second and third object, viz., אמן אמוּנה. It is a common custom with Isaiah to place derivatives of the same word side by side, for the purpose of giving the greatest possible emphasis to the idea (Isaiah 3:1; Isaiah 16:6). אמוּנה indicates a quality, אמן in actual fact. What He has executed is the realization of His faithfulness, and the reality of His promises. The imperial city is destroyed. Jehovah, as the first clause which is defined by tzakeph affirms, has removed it away from the nature of a city into the condition of a heap of stones. The sentence has its object within itself, and merely gives prominence to the change that has been effected; the Lamed is used in the same sense as in Isaiah 23:13 (cf., Isaiah 37:26); the min, as in Isaiah 7:8; Isaiah 17:1; Isaiah 23:1; Isaiah 24:10. Mappēlâh, with kametz or tzere before the tone, is a word that can only be accredited from the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 17:1; Isaiah 23:13). עיר, קריה, and אמרון are common parallel words in Isaiah (Isaiah 1:26; Isaiah 22:2; Isaiah 32:13-14); and zârim, as in Isaiah 1:7 and Isaiah 29:5, is the most general epithet for the enemies of the people of God. The fall of the imperial kingdom is followed by the conversion of the heathen; the songs proceed from the mouths of the remotest nations. Isaiah 25:3 runs parallel with Revelation 15:3-4. Nations hitherto rude and passionate now submit to Jehovah with decorous reverence, and those that were previously oppressive (‛arı̄tzim, as in Isaiah 13:11, in form like pârı̄tzim, shâlı̄shı̄m) with humble fear. The cause of this conversion of the heathen is the one thus briefly indicated in the Apocalypse, "for thy judgments are made manifest" (Revelation 15:4). דּל and אביון (cf., Isaiah 14:30; Isaiah 29:19) are names well known from the Psalms, as applying to the church when oppressed. To this church, in the distress which she had endured (לו בּצּר, as in Isaiah 26:16; Isaiah 63:9, cf., Isaiah 33:2), Jehovah had proved Himself a strong castle (mâ'ōz; on the expression, compare Isaiah 30:3), a shelter from storm and a shade from heat (for the figures, compare Isaiah 4:6; Isaiah 32:2; Isaiah 16:3), so that the blast of the tyrants (compare ruach on Isaiah 30:28; Isaiah 33:11, Psalm 76:13) was like a wall-storm, i.e., a storm striking against a wall (compare Isaiah 9:3, a shoulder-stick, i.e., a stick which strikes the shoulder), sounding against it and bursting upon it without being able to wash it away (Isaiah 28:17; Psalm 62:4), because it was the wall of a strong castle, and this strong castle was Jehovah Himself. As Jehovah can suddenly subdue the heat of the sun in dryness (tzâyōn, abstract for concrete, as in Isaiah 32:2, equivalent to dry land, Isaiah 41:18), and it must give way when He brings up a shady thicket (Jeremiah 4:29), namely of clouds (Exodus 19:9; Psalm 18:12), so did He suddenly subdue the thundering (shâ'on, as in Isaiah 17:12) of the hordes that stormed against His people; and the song of triumph (zâmı̄r, only met with again in Sol 2:12) of the tyrants, which passed over the world like a scorching heat, was soon "brought low" (‛ânâh, in its neuter radical signification "to bend," related to כּנע, as in Isaiah 31:4).
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