Isaiah 25:8
He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD has spoken it.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) He will swallow up . . .—The verb is the same as the “destroy” of Isaiah 25:7. The words are an echo of the earlier promise of Hosea 13:14. They are, in their turn, re-echoed in the triumph-anthem of St. Paul in 1Corinthians 15:54. The clause, “the Lord God shall wipe away tears,” is in like manner reproduced in Revelation 7:17; Revelation 21:4.

The rebuke of his people . . .—The taunt to which they were exposed in the time of their affliction, when the heathen took up their proverb of reproach and asked, “Where is now their God?” (Psalm 79:10).

Isaiah

‘IN THIS MOUNTAIN’

Isaiah 25:6 - Isaiah 25:8
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A poet’s imagination and a prophet’s clear vision of the goal to which God will lead humanity are both at their highest in this great song of the future, whose winged words make music even in a translation. No doubt it starts from the comparatively small fact of the restoration of the exiled nation to its own land. But it soars far beyond that. It sees all mankind associated with them in sharing their blessings. It is the vision of God’s ideal for humanity. That makes it the more remarkable that the prophet, with this wide outlook, should insist with such emphasis on the fact that it has a local centre. That phrase ‘in this mountain’ is three times repeated in the hymn; two of the instances occurring in the verses of my text have lying side by side with them the expressions ‘all people’ and ‘all nations,’ as if to bring together the local origin, and the universal extent, of the blessings promised.

The sweet waters that are to pour through the world well up from a spring opened ‘in this mountain.’ The beams that are to lighten every land stream out from a light blazing there. The world’s hopes for that golden age which poets have sung, and towards which earnest social reformers have worked, and of the coming of which this prophet was sure, rest on a definite fact, done in a definite place, at a definite time. Isaiah knew the place, but what was to be done, or when it was to be done, he knew not. You and I ought to be wiser. History has taught us that Jesus Christ fulfils the visioned good that inspired the prophet’s brilliant words. We might say, with allowable licence, that ‘this mountain,’ in which the Lord does the great things that this song magnifies, is not so much Zion as Calvary.

Brethren, in these days, when so many voices are proclaiming so many short cuts to the Millennium, this clear declaration of the source of the world’s hope is worth pondering. For us all, individually, this localisation of the origin of the universal good of mankind is an offer of blessings to us if we will go thither, where the provision for the world’s good is stored-’In this mountain’; therefore, to seek it anywhere else is to seek it in vain.

Now, I wish, under the impression of that conviction, to put before you just these three thoughts: where the world’s food comes from; where the unveiling which gives light to the world comes from; and where the life which destroys death for the world comes from-’In this mountain.’

I. Where does the world’s food come from?

Physiologists can tell, by studying the dentition-the system of the teeth-and the digestive apparatus of an animal, what it is meant to live upon, whether vegetables or flesh, or a mingled diet of both. And you can tell, if you will, by studying yourself, what, or whom, you are meant to live upon. The poet said, ‘We live by admiration, hope, and love.’ But he did not say on what these faculties, which truly nourish man’s spirit, are to fix and fasten. He tells of the appetites; he does not tell of their food. My text does: ‘In this mountain shall the Lord make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the less well refined.’ Friends, look at these hearts of yours with their yearnings, with their passionate desires, with their clamant needs. Will any human love-the purest, the sweetest, the most unselfish, the most utter in its surrender-satisfy the heart-hunger of the poorest of us? No! Look at the capacities of grasping thought and truth in our spirits, which are ever seek, seek, seeking for absolutely certain foundations on which we may build the whole structure of our beliefs. You have to go deeper down than the sand of man’s thinkings and teachings before you can reach what will bear without shifting the foundations of a life’s credence and confidence. Look at these tumultuous wills of ours that fancy they crave to be independent, and really crave an absolute master whom it is blessedness to obey. You will find none such beneath the stars. The very elements of our being, our heart, will, mind, desires, passions, longings, all with one voice proclaim that the only food for a man is God.

Jesus Christ brings the food that we need. Remember His own adaptation of this great vision of my text in more than one parable; such as the supper that was provided, and to which all men were invited, and, ‘with one consent,’ declined the invitation. Remember His own utterance,’ I am the Bread of God which came down from heaven to give life to the world.’ Remembering such words, let me plead with you to listen to the voice of warning as well as of invitation, which sounds from Cradle and Cross and Throne. ‘Why will ye spend your money for that which is not bread’-you know it is not-’and your labour for that which satisfieth not?’-you know it does not. Turn to Him, ‘eat, and your souls shall live.’ ‘In this mountain is prepared a feast. . . for all nations.’

Notice that although it does not appear on the surface, and to English readers, this world’s festival, in which every want is met, and every appetite satisfied, is a feast on a sacrifice. That touches the deepest need, about which I shall have a word or two to say presently. But in the meantime let me just press this upon you, that the Christ who died on the Cross is to be lived on by us; and that it is His sacrifice that is to be the nourishment of our spirits.

Would that the earnest men, who are trying to cure the world’s evils and to still the world’s wants, and are leaving Jesus Christ and His religion out of their programme, would take thought and ask themselves whether there is not something more in the hunger of humanity than their ovens can ever bake bread for! They are spinning ropes of sand, if they are trying to lift the world clear of its miseries and of its hunger, and are not presenting Jesus Christ. I hope I am no bigot; I know that I sympathise earnestly with all these other schemes for helping mankind, but this I am bound to say here-all of them put together will not reach the need of the case, unless they start from, and are subsidiary to, and develop out of, the presenting of the primal supply for the universal want, Christ, who alone is able to still the hunger of men’s hearts. Education will do much, but university degrees and the highest culture will not satisfy a hungry heart. Fitting environment, as it is fashionable to call it, will do a great deal, but nothing outside of a man will staunch his evils or still the hunger that coils and grips in his heart. Competent wealth is a good-there is no need to say that in Manchester-but millionaires have been known to be miserable. A heart at rest in the love of husband, wife, parent, child, is a blessing earnestly to be sought and thankfully to be treasured by us all; but there is more than that wanted. Put a man in the most favourable circumstances; give him competent worldly means; do all that modern philosophers who leave religion out of the question are trying to do; put in practice your most advanced Socialistic schemes, and you will still have a man with a hungry heart. He may not know what he wants; very often he will entirely mistake what that is, but he will be restless for want of an unknown good. Here is the only thing that will still his heart: ‘The bread which I give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.’

Brother and sister, this is not a matter only for social reformers, and to be dealt with as bearing upon wide movements that influence multitudes. It comes home to you and me. Some of you do not in the least degree know what I am talking about when I speak of the hunger of men’s hearts; for you have lost your appetites, as children that eat too many sweets have no desire for their wholesome meals. You have lost your appetite by feeding upon garbage, and you say you are quite content. Yes, at present; but deep down there lies in your hearts a need which will awake and speak out some day; and you will find that the husks which the swine did eat are scarcely wholesome nutriment for a man. And there are some of you that turn away with disgust, and I am glad of it, from these low, gross, sensuous delights; and are trying to satisfy yourselves with education, culture, refinement, art, science, domestic love, wealth, gratified ambition, or the like. There are tribes of degraded Indians that in times of famine eat clay. There is a little nourishment in it, and it distends their stomachs, and gives them the feeling of having had a meal. And that is like what some of you do. Dear friends, will you listen to this?-’Why do ye spend your money for that which is not bread?’ Will you listen to this?-’I am the Bread of Life,’ Will you listen to this?-’In this mountain will the Lord make unto all people a feast of fat things.’

II. Where does the unveiling that gives light to the world come from?

My text, as I have already remarked, emphatically repeats ‘in this mountain’ in its next clause. ‘He will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations.’

Now, of course, the pathetic picture that is implied here, of a dark pall that lies over the whole world, suggests the idea of mourning, but still more emphatically, I think, that of obscuration and gloom. The veil prevents vision and shuts out light, and that is the picture of humanity as it presents itself before this prophet-a world of men entangled in the folds of a dark pall that lay over their heads, and swathed them round about, and prevented them from seeing; shut them up in darkness and entangled their feet, so that they stumbled in the gloom. It is a pathetic picture, but it does not go beyond the realities of the case. For, with all our light on other matters, with all our freedom of action, with all our frequent forgetfulness of the fact that we are thus encompassed, it remains true that, apart from the emancipation and illumination that are effected by Jesus Christ, this is the picture of mankind as they are. And you are beneath that veil, and swathed, obstructively as regards light and liberty, by its heavy folds, unless Christ has freed you.

But we must go a step further than that, I think; and although one does not wish to force too much meaning on to a poetic metaphor, still I cannot help supposing that that universal pall, as I called it, which is cast over all nations, has a very definite and a very tragic meaning. There is a universal fact of human experience which answers to the figure, and that is sin. That is the black thing whose ebon folds hamper us, and darken us, and shut out the visions of God and blessedness, and all the glorious blue above us. The heavy, dark mist settles down on the plains, though the sky above is undimmed by it, and the sun is blazing in the zenith. Not one beam can penetrate through the wet, chill obstruction, and men stumble about in the fog with lamps and torches, and all the while a hundred feet up it is brightness and day. Or, if at some points the obstruction is thinned and the sun does come through, it is shorn of all its gracious beams and power to warm and cheer, and looks but like a copper-coloured, livid, angry ball. So the ‘veil that is spread over all nations, ‘that awful fact of universal sinfulness, shuts out God-who is our light and our joy-from us, and no other lights or joys are more than twinkling tapers in the mist. Or it makes us see Him as men in a fog see the sun-shorn of His graciousness, threatening, wrathful, unlovely.

Brethren, the fact of universal sinfulness is the outstanding fact of humanity. Jesus Christ deals with it by His death, which is God’s sacrifice and the world’s atonement. That Lamb of God has borne away the world’s sins, and my sins and thy sins are there. By the fact of His death He has rent the veil from the top to the bottom, and the light comes in, unhindered by the terrible solemn fact that all of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God. By His life He communicates to each of us, if we will trust our poor sinful souls to Him, a new power of living which is triumphant over temptation, and gives the victory over sin if we will be true to Him. And so the last shreds of the veil, like the torn clouds of a spent thunderstorm, are parted into filmy rags and float away below the horizon, leaving the untarnished heavens and the flaming sunshine; and ‘we with unveiled faces’ can lift them up to be irradiated by the light. ‘In this mountain will the Lord destroy the covering that is spread over all nations.’

The weak point of all these schemes and methods to which I have already referred for helping humanity out of the slough, and making men happier, is that they underestimate the fact of sin. If a man comes to them and says, ‘I have broken God’s law. What am I to do? I have a power within me that impels me now to evil. How am I to get rid of it?’ they have no adequate answer. There is only one remedy that deals radically with the fact of human transgression; only one power that will deliver each of us, if we will, from the penalty, the guilt, the power of sin; and that is the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary, and its result, the inspiration of the spirit of life that was in Jesus Christ, breathed into us from the Throne itself. Thus, and thus only, is the veil done away in Christ.

III. Lastly, where does the life that destroys death come from?

‘He will swallow up death in victory,’ or, as probably the word more correctly means, ‘He will swallow up death for ever.’ None of the other panaceas for the world’s evils that I have been speaking of even attempt to deal with that ‘Shadow feared of Man’ that sits at the end of all our paths. Jesus Christ has dealt with it. Like the warrior of Judah who went down into a pit and slew a lion, He has gone down into the lair of the dreadful thing, and has come up leaving Death dead on the threshold.

By His death Christ has so altered that grim fact, which awaits us all, that to those who will trust their souls to Him it ceases to be death, even though the physical fact remains unaltered. For what is death? Is it simply the separation of soul from body, the cessation of corporeal existence? Surely not. We have to add to that all the spiritual tremors, all the dreads of passing into the unknown, and leaving this familiar order of things, and all the other reluctances and half-conscious feelings which make the difference between the death of a man and the death of a dog. And all these are swept clean away, if we believe that Jesus died, and died as our Redeemer and our Saviour. So, unconsciously and instinctively, the New Testament writers will seldom condescend to call the physical fact by the ugly old name. It has changed its character; it is ‘a sleep’ now; it is ‘an exodus,’ a ‘going out’ from the land of Egypt into a land of peace. It is a plucking up of the tent-pegs, according to another of the words which the writers employ for death, in preparation for entering, when the ‘tabernacle is dissolved,’ into ‘a house not made with hands,’ a statelier edifice, ‘eternal in the heavens.’ To die in Christ is not to die, but becomes a mere change of condition and of place, to be with Him, which is far ‘better.’ So an Apostle who was coming within measurable distance of his own martyrdom, even whilst the headsman’s block was all but in his sight, said: ‘He hath abolished death,’ the physical fact remaining still.

By His resurrection Jesus Christ has established immortality as a certainty for men. I can understand a man, who has persuaded himself that when he dies he is done with, dressing his limbs to die without dread if without hope. But that is a poor victory over death, which, even in the act of getting rid of the fear of it, invests it with supreme and ultimate power over humanity. Surely, surely, to believe that the grave is a blind alley, with no exit at the other end,-to believe that, however it may minister to a quiet departure, is no victory over the grave. But to die believing, on the other hand, that it is only a short tunnel through which we pass, and come out into fairer lands on the other side of the mountains, is to conquer that last foe even while it seems to conquer us.

Jesus Christ, who died that we might never die, lives that we may always live. For His immortal life will give to each of us, if we join ourselves to Him by simple faith and lowly obedience, an immortal life that shall persist through, and be increased by, the article of bodily death. And when we pass into the higher realm of fulness of joy, then- as Paul quotes the words of my text-’shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.’

Dear brethren, gather all these thoughts together. Do they not plead with you to cast yourselves on Jesus Christ, and to turn to Him alone? He will give you the food of your souls; if you will not sit at His table you will starve. He will strip you of the covering that is cast over you, as over us all; if you will not let Him unwind its folds from your limbs, then like the clothes of a drowning man, they will sink you. He will give you immortal life, which laughs at death, and you will be able to take up the great song, ‘O Death, where is thy sting; O grave, where is thy victory?. . . Thanks be to God which giveth us the victory.’ ‘In this mountain’ and in this mountain only, are the food, the illumination, the life of the world. I beseech you, do not turn away from them, lest you stumble on the dark mountains, where are starvation and gloom and death, but rather join that happy company of pilgrims who sing as they march, ‘Come! let us go up to the mountain of the Lord. He will teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths.’Isaiah 25:8. He — The Lord, expressed both in the foregoing and following words, even the Messiah, who is both God and man; will swallow up death — Shall, by his death, destroy the power of death, (Hebrews 2:14,) take away the sting of the first death, and prevent the second death, and give eternal life to all that truly believe in him. In victory — Hebrew, לנצח, unto victory, that is, so as to overcome it perfectly; which complete victory Christ hath already purchased for, and will, in due time, actually confer upon his people. And will wipe away tears — Will take away from his people all sufferings and sorrows, with all the causes of them, which deliverance is begun here and perfected in heaven. The rebuke of his people — The reproach and contempt cast upon his faithful people by the ungodly world; shall he take, &c. — From all the church and people of God, wheresoever they shall be. For the Lord hath spoken it — Therefore doubt it not, though it seem incredible to you.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.He will swallow up - This image is probably taken from a whirlpool or maelstrom in the ocean that absorbs all that comes near it. It is, therefore, equivalent to saying he will destroy or remove Isaiah 25:7. In this place it means that be will abolish death; that is, he will cause it to cease from its ravages and triumphs. This passage is quoted by Paul in his argument respecting the resurrection of the dead 1 Corinthians 15:54. He does not, however, quote directly from the Hebrew, or from the Septuagint, but gives the substance of the passage. His quoting it is sufficient proof that it refers to the resurrection, and float its primary design is to set forth the achievements of the gospel - achievements that will be fully realized only when death shall cease its dominion, and when its reign shall be forever at an end.

Death - Vitringa supposes that by 'death' here is meant the wars and calamities with which the nation had been visited, and which would cease under the Messiah. In this interpretation Rosenmuller concurs. It is possible that the word may have this meaning in some instances; and it is possible that the calamities of the Jews may have suggested this to the prophet, but the primary sense of the word here, I think, is death in its proper signification, and the reference is to the triumphs of God through the Messiah in completely abolishing its reign, and introducing eternal life. This was designed, doubtless, to comfort the hearts of the Jews, by presenting in a single graphic description the gospel as adapted to overcome all evils, and even to remove the greatest calamity under which the race groans - death.

In victory - Hebrew, לנצח lānetsach. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15:54, has translated this, Εἰς νῖκος Eis nikos - 'Unto victory.' The word νῖκος nikos (victory) is often the translation of the word (see 2 Samuel 2:26; Job 36:7; Lam: Lamentations 3:18; Amos 1:2; Amos 8:7); though here the Septuagint has rendered it 'strong (or prevailing) death shall be swallowed up.' The word may be derived from the Chaldee verb נצח netsach, to conquer, surpass; and then may denote victory. It often, however, has the sense of permanency, duration, completness, eternity; and may mean for ever, and then entirely or completely. This sense is not materially different from that of Paul, 'unto victory.' Death shall be completely, permanently, destroyed; that is, a complete victory shall be gained over it. The Syriac unites the two ideas of victory and perpetuity. 'Death shall be swallowed up in victory forever.' This will take place under the reign of the Messiah, and shall be completed only in the morning of the resurrection, when the power of death over the people of God shall be completely and forever subdued.

Will wipe away tears from off all faces - This is quoted in Revelation 21:4, as applicable to the gospel. The sense is, that Yahweh would devise a plan that would be suited to furnish perfect consolation to the afflicted; to comfort the broken-hearted; and that would in its final triumphs remove calamity and sorrow from people forever. The fullness of this plan will be seen only in heaven. In anticipation of heaven, however, the gospel now does much to alleviate human woes, and to wipe away tears from the mourner's eyes. This passage is exquisitely beautiful. The poet Burns once said that he could never read it without being affected to tears. It may be added that nothing but the gospel will do this. No other religion can furnish such consolation; and no other religion is, therefore, adapted to man.

And the rebuke of his people - The reproach; the contempt; the opposition to them. This refers to some future period when the church shall be at peace, and when pure religion shall everywhere prevail. Hitherto the people of God have been scorned and persecuted, but the time will come when persecution shall cease, the true religion shall everywhere prevail, the church shall have rest, and its triumphs shall spread everywhere on the earth.

8. Quoted in 1Co 15:54, in support of the resurrection.

swallow up … in victory—completely and permanently "abolish" (2Ti 1:10; Re 20:14; 21:4; compare Ge 2:17; 3:22).

rebuke—(Compare Mr 8:38; Heb 11:26).

He, the Lord, expressed both in the foregoing and following words, even the Messiah, who is God and man, will swallow up death; shall by his death destroy the power of death, as is said, Hebrews 2:14; take away the sting of the first death, and prevent the second death, and give eternal life to the world, even to all that believe in him.

In victory, Heb. unto victory, i.e. so as to overcome it perfectly; which complete victory Christ hath already purchased for, and will in due time actually confer upon, his people.

Will wipe away tears; will take away from his people all sufferings and sorrows, and all the causes of them; which is begun here, and perfected in heaven.

The rebuke of his people; the reproach and contempt which was daily cast upon his faithful people by the ungodly world, and, among others, by the apostate and unbelieving Jews, who accounted the Christians to be the scum and offscouring of all things.

From off all the earth; or, from off all this land, i.e. from all the church and people of God, wheresoever they shall be, from all their faces, as was said in the foregoing clause.

The Lord hath spoken it; therefore doubt not of it, though it seem incredible to you. He will swallow up death in victory,.... Or, "for ever" (g). This is to be understood, not of a spiritual death, which is swallowed up in conversion, and of which those that are quickened shall never die more; nor of the conversion of the Jews, which will be as life from the dead; nor of the civil death of the witnesses, and of their rising, who afterwards will never die more, in that sense; but of a corporeal death: this Christ has swallowed up in victory, by dying on the cross, both with respect to himself, who will never die more, and with respect to his people, from whom he has abolished it as a penal evil; but it chiefly respects the resurrection state, or the personal coming of Christ, when the dead in him shall rise first, and shall never die more, there will be no more death, neither corporeal, spiritual, nor eternal to them; on them death shall have no power, in any shape: and then will this saying be brought about or fulfilled, as the apostle has interpreted it, 1 Corinthians 15:54 so the Jews (h) interpret it of the future state, when those that live again shall die no more, and there will be no death; and of the days of the Messiah, when the dead will be raised (i):

and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; there are many things now that cause tears to fall from the saints, as their own sins, indwelling sin, unbelief, carnality, leanness, backslidings, &c. and the sins of others, the temptations of Satan, the hiding of God's face, afflictions of various sorts, and the persecutions of men; but these will be no more in the New Jerusalem state; and therefore God is said to wipe them away, having removed the cause of them, Revelation 7:17, Revelation 21:4 the allusion is to a tender parent, that takes a handkerchief, and wipes the face of its child, when it has been crying, and quiets and comforts it:

and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth; all the reproaches and calumnies which have been cast upon them, and all misrepresentations of them, shall be taken away from them everywhere, and they will no longer lie under them, but stand clear of all false charges and accusations: or all persecution shall now cease; there shall be none to hurt them in all the holy mountain, Isaiah 11:9,

for the Lord hath spoken it; and it shall be done. The Targum is,

"for by the word of the Lord it is so decreed.''

(g) "in sempiternum", Munster, Pagninus, Montanus; "in aeternum", Piscator. (h) Gloss. in T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 94. Misna, Moed Katon, c. 3. sect. 9. Midrash Kohelet, fol. 61. 2.((i) Zohar in Gen. fol. 73. 1. Shemot Rabba, sect. 20. fol. 131. 4.

He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will {k} wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he remove from all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.

(k) He will take away all opportunity for sorrow and fill his with perfect joy, Rev 7:17,21:4.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. He will swallow up … victory] Rather: He hath abolished death for ever. Cf. 2 Timothy 1:10. The A.V. follows the rendering of St Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:54 (κατεπόθη ὁ θάνατος εἰς νῖκος), but “swallow up” is needlessly literal, and “in victory” comes from the apostle’s familiarity with Aramaic. The sense, of course, is correctly given. The words contain the clearest expression of the hope of immortality to be found in the prophetic writings. The special contribution of prophecy to that doctrine is reached through the conception of the abolition of death as a hindrance to the perfect blessedness of the Messianic age. Although the prophets rarely touch on this theme, we can see that it was only by degrees and at a late period that the idea of immortal life became an element in their conception of the kingdom of God. The first step towards it was the anticipation of a great extension of human life, as in Zechariah 8:4; Isaiah 65:20; Isaiah 65:22. From this to the belief in an absolute annihilation of death is no doubt a great advance, but the advance is made in the passage before us. It might be questioned if the resurrection of those who had fallen asleep before the advent of the Messianic kingdom is here contemplated; but since that doctrine is clearly taught in the next chapter (Isaiah 26:19), the question has little importance.

and the Lord God will wipe away tears …]—the traces of past sorrow. “When Jehovah removes the veil he sees the tears and wipes them away” (Duhm). Perhaps no words that ever were uttered have sunk deeper into the aching heart of humanity than this exquisite image of the Divine tenderness; cf. Revelation 21:4.

the rebuke (render, reproach) of his people … earth] a reversal of the doom pronounced in Deuteronomy 28:37. The later Jews keenly felt their accumulated national misfortunes as a religious disgrace, a reflection on the power of their God; Joel 2:17; Psalm 44:14 ff; Psalm 79:10, &c. Comp. with this passage, Zephaniah 3:18 ff.Verse 8. - He will swallow up death in victory; rather, he will abolish death forever. Hosea, a contemporary, was inspired to write! "Will ransom Israel from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction" (Hosea 13:14); but otherwise this was the first announcement that death was to disappear and to cease to be a possibility. It was an enormous advance on the dim and vague conceptions of a future life hitherto current (Job 19:25, 27; Psalm 17:15) to have such an announcement made as this. Hitherto men had been "through fear of death all their life subject to bondage" (Hebrews 2:15). Now they were taught that, in the resurrection-life, there would be no tear, no possibility of death. The joyous outburst of the apostle, when he quotes the present passage (2 Corinthians 15:54), is the natural thanksgiving song of reassured humanity, on recognizing its final deliverance from the unspeakable terror of death and annihilation. The Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces. A recent commentator asks, "What place is left for tears?" But surely death is not the only cause of human mourning. Our own sins, the sins and sufferings of our dear ones, are the main provocatives of our tears. When it is promised, as here and in Revelation 7:17 and Revelation 21:4, that "there shall be no more pain, neither sorrow nor crying," the revelation is made that there shall be no more sin; for where sin is, sorrow must be. The rebuke of his people shall he take away. It will be among the lesser satisfactions of the final condition of the saved that they are no longer subject to reproach. In this life they have to endure continually reproach, rebuke, contumely (Psalm 74:10; Psalm 89:50, 51, etc.). In the resurrection-life they will be exempt from any such annoyance. The Lord hath spoken it. God's word has gone forth. There can be no retractation. The blessings promised are certain to be obtained. 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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