Isaiah 27:5
Or let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) Or let him take hold of my strength.—Or, Let him lay hold on my fortress: let him make peace with Me. The thought implied is that even the enemies of Jehovah, if repentant, may find in Him “their castle and deliverer.” To them, too, there is the gracious invitation to make peace.

Isaiah

THE GRASP THAT BRINGS PEACE

Isaiah 27:5
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Lyrical emotion makes the prophet’s language obscure by reason of its swift transitions from one mood of feeling to another. But the main drift here is discernible. God is guarding Israel, His vineyard, and before Him its foes are weak as ‘thorns and briers,’ whose end is to be burned. With daring anthropomorphism, the prophet puts into God’s mouth a longing for the enemies to measure their strength against His, a warrior’s eagerness for the fight. But at once this martial tone gives place to the tender invitation of the text, and the infinite divine willingness to be reconciled to the enemy speaks wooingly and offers conditions of peace. All this has universal application to our relations to God.

I. The Hostility.

That our relations with God are ‘strained,’ and that men are ‘enemies of God,’ is often repelled as exaggeration, if not as directly false. And, no doubt, the Scripture representation has often been so handled as to become caricature rather than portraiture. Scripture does not deny the lingering presence in men of goodness, partial and defective, nor does it assert that conscious antagonism to God is active in godless men. But it does assert that ‘God is not in all their thoughts,’ and that their wills are ‘not subject to the law of God.’ And in such a case as man’s relations to God, indifference and forgetfulness cannot but rest upon divergence of will and contrast of character. Why do men ‘not like to retain God in their knowledge, ‘but because they feel that the thought of Him would spoil the feast, like the skeleton in the banqueting chamber? Beneath the apparent indifference lie opposition of will, meeting God’s ‘Thou shalt’ with man’s ‘I will not’; opposition of moral nature, impurity shrinking from perfect purity; opposition of affection, the warmth of human love being diverted to other objects than God.

II. The entreating Love that is not turned aside by hostility.

The antagonism is wholly on man’s part.

True, man’s opposition necessarily turns certain sides of the divine character to present a hostile front to him. Not only God’s physical attributes, if we may so call them, but the moral attributes which guide the energies of these, namely, His holiness and His righteousness, and the acts of His sovereignty which flow from these, must be in opposition to the man who has set himself in opposition to God. ‘The face of the Lord is against them that do evil.’ If it were not, He would not be God.

But still, God’s love enfolds all men in its close and tender clasp. As the context says, in close connection with the threat to burn the briers and thorns, ‘Fury is not in Me.’ Man’s hostility does not rouse God’s. He wars against the sin because He still loves the sinner. His love ‘must come with a rod,’ but, at the same time, it comes ‘with the spirit of meekness.’ It gives its enemy all that it can; but it cannot give all that it would.

He stoops to sue for our amity. It is the creditor who exhausts beseechings on His debtor, so much does He wish to ‘agree with His adversary quickly.’ The tender pleading of the Apostle was but a faint echo of the marvellous condescension of God, when he, ‘in God’s stead, besought: ‘Be ye reconciled to God.’

III. The grasp which ends alienation.

The word for ‘strength’ here means a stronghold or fortified place, which serves as an asylum or refuge. There may be some mingling of an allusion to the fugitive’s taking hold of the horns of the altar, and so being safe from the vengeance of his pursuers. If we may take this double metaphor as implied in the text, it vividly illustrates the essence of the faith which brings us into peace with God. That faith is the flight of the soul to God, and, in another aspect, it is the clinging of the soul to Him. How much more these two metaphors tell of the real nature of faith than many a theological treatise! They speak of the urgency of the peril from which it seeks deliverance. A fugitive with the hot breath of the avenger of blood panting behind him, and almost feeling the spear-point in his back, would not let the grass grow under his feet. They speak of the energetic clutch of faith, as that of the man gripping the horns of the altar. They suggest that faith is something much more vital than intellectual assent or credence, namely, an act of the whole man realising his need and casting himself on God.

And they set in clear light what is the connection between faith and salvation. It is not the hand that grasps the altar that secures safety, but the altar itself. It is not the flight to the fortress, but the massive walls themselves, which keeps those who hunt after the fugitive at bay. It is not my faith, but the God on whom my faith fastens, that brings peace to my conscience.

IV. The peace that this grasp brings.

In Christ God has ‘put away all His wrath, and turned Himself from the fierceness of His anger.’ And He was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself. It is a one-sided warfare that men wage with Him, and when we abandon our opposition to Him, the war is ended. We might say that God, clasped by faith and trusted in and loved, is the asylum from God opposed and feared. His moral nature must be against evil, but faith unites us to Jesus, and, by union with Him, we receive the germ of a nature which has no affinity with evil, and which God wholly delights in and loves. To those who live by the life, and growingly bear the image of His Son, the divine Nature turns a face all bright and favouring, and His moral and physical attributes are all enlisted on their side. The fortress looks grim to outsiders gazing up at its strong walls and frowning battlements, but to dwellers within, these give security, and in its inmost centre is a garden, with flowers and a springing fountain, whither the noise of fighting never penetrates. We have but to cease to be against Him, and to grasp the facts of His love as revealed in the Cross of Christ, the sacrifice who taketh away the sin of the world, and we are at peace with God. Being at peace with Him, the discords of our natures warring against themselves are attuned into harmony, and we are at peace within. And when God and we are at one, and we are at one with ourselves, then all things will be on our side, and will work together for good. To such a man the ancient promise will be fulfilled: ‘Thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field, and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee.’27:1-5 The Lord Jesus with his strong sword, the virtue of his death, and the preaching of his gospel, does and will destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, that old serpent. The world is a fruitless, worthless wilderness; but the church is a vineyard, a place that has great care taken of it, and from which precious fruits are gathered. God will keep it in the night of affliction and persecution, and in the day of peace and prosperity, the temptations of which are not less dangerous. God also takes care of the fruitfulness of this vineyard. We need the continual waterings of Divine grace; if these be at any time withdrawn, we wither, and come to nothing. Though God sometimes contends with his people, yet he graciously waits to be reconciled unto them. It is true, when he finds briers and thorns instead of vines, and they are set in array against him, he will tread them down and burn them. Here is a summary of the doctrine of the gospel, with which the church is to be watered every moment. Ever since sin first entered, there has been, on God's part, a righteous quarrel, but, on man's part, most unrighteous. Here is a gracious invitation given. Pardoning mercy is called the power of our Lord; let us take hold on that. Christ crucified is the power of God. Let us by lively faith take hold on his strength who is a strength to the needy, believing there is no other name by which we can be saved, as a man that is sinking catches hold of a bough, or cord, or plank, that is in his reach. This is the only way, and it is a sure way, to be saved. God is willing to be reconciled to us.Or let him - The Hebrew word rendered here or (או 'ô) means "unless;" and the sense is, the enemies of the Jewish people shall be completely destroyed as briers are by fire, "unless" they flee to God for a refuge.

Take hold of my strength - That is, let the enemy take hold of me to become reconciled to me. The figure here is taken probably from the act of fleeing to take hold of the horns of the altar for refuge when one was pursued (compare 1 Kings 1:50; 1 Kings 2:28).

That he may make peace with me - With me as the guardian of the vineyard. If this were done they would be safe.

And he shall make peace with me - That is, even the enemy of me and of my vineyard "may" be permitted to make peace with me. Learn,

(1) That God is willing to be reconciled to his enemies.

(2) That peace must be obtained by seeking his protection; by submitting to him, and laying hold of his strength.

(3) That if this is not done, his enemies must be inevitably destroyed.

(4) He will defend his people, and no weapon that is formed against them shall prosper.

5. Or—Else; the only alternative, if Israel's enemies wish to escape being "burnt together."

strength—rather, "the refuge which I afford" [Maurer]. "Take hold," refers to the horns of the altar which fugitives often laid hold of as an asylum (1Ki 1:50; 2:28). Jesus is God's "strength," or "refuge" which sinners must repair to and take hold of, if they are to have "peace" with God (Isa 45:24; Ro 5:1; Eph 2:14; compare Job 22:21).

Or, or if at any time fury be, or seem to be, in me against my vineyard or people,

let him, my people, as is clearly implied from the following words; for there is no peace to those who are not God’s people, or to the wicked, Isaiah 57:21, and is expressed in the following verse; take hold of my strength, i.e. take hold of my arm, which is metonymically strength, and stay it from giving the blow, not by force, which is impossible, but by humble submission and earnest supplication. Or, strengthen himself, or be strong, (as this word properly signifies, and is elsewhere used,) by my strength; not by his own strength, which he will oppose to mine, but by my strength, which he may by humble and frequent prayers not only restrain from doing him hurt, but effectually engage to assist him, and do him good. He seems to allude to that history of Jacob’s wrestling with the angel of God, Genesis 32:28, which he could never have done but by a strength received from God.

That he may make peace with me; that instead of opposing me, he may in this manner reconcile himself to me. Or, and

he shall make peace with me, as the same words are rendered in the next clause; which may be repeated to assure them of that great and important favour, that God would make peace with them. Or the words may be rendered in both clauses, let him make peace with me, yea, let him make peace with me; this future verb being taken imperatively, as the other is in the former clause of the verse. 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 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 (s); or, as some render them, "O that he would (t)", &c.; it follows,

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.

(s) "si prehenderit munitionem meam", Noldius. (t) "Utiuam, O si apprehenderit munitionem meam", Forerius.

Or let him {e} take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me.

(e) He marvels that Israel will not come by gentleness, unless God make them to feel his rods, and so bring them to him.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. Or let him take hold, &c.] Else must he take hold of my strength: lit. “my stronghold” or asylum: cf. 1 Kings 1:50; 1 Kings 2:28. The figure is relinquished; the idea expressed being that unconditional surrender to Jehovah on the part of the ungodly is the only alternative to his annihilation.

The two last clauses let him make peace … differ only in the order of words, and should be translated alike (see R.V.).Verse 5. - Or let him take hold of my strength. There is another alternative. If the "thorns and the briars" are not prepared to contend in battle against God, let them adopt a different course. Let them "lay hold of God's strength," place themselves under his protection, and make their appeal to him, and see if they cannot "make their peace with him." A truly evangelical invitation! The enemies of God are entreated to cease from striving against him, and are taught that the door of repentance is still open to them. God is willing to be reconciled even to his enemies. Let them make peace with him, make peace with him. The reiteration constitutes an appeal of extreme earnestness and tenderness, which none could reject but the utterly impenitent. The judgment upon them is not mentioned, indeed, till after the completion of the church through those of its members that have died, although it must have actually preceded the latter. Thus the standpoint of the prophecy is incessantly oscillating backwards and forwards in these four chapters (Isaiah 24-27). This explains the exhortation in the next verses, and the reason assigned. "Go in, my people, into thy chambers, and shut the door behind thee; hide thyself a little moment, till the judgment of wrath passes by. For, behold, Jehovah goeth out from His place to visit the iniquity of the inhabitants of the earth upon them; and the earth discloses the blood that it has sucked up, and no more covers her slain." The shı̄r is now at an end. The prophecy speaks once more as a prophet. Whilst the judgment of wrath (za‛am) is going forth, and until it shall have passed by (on the fut. exact., see Isaiah 10:12; Isaiah 4:4; and on the fact itself, acharith hazza‛am, Daniel 8:19), the people of God are to continue in the solitude of prayer (Matthew 6:6, cf., Psalm 27:5; Psalm 31:21). They can do so, for the judgment by which they get rid of their foes is the act of Jehovah alone; and they are to do so because only he who is hidden in God by prayer can escape the wrath. The judgment only lasts a little while (Isaiah 10:24-25; Isaiah 54:7-8,. cf., Psalm 30:6), a short time which is shortened for the elect's sake. Instead of the dual דּלתיך (as the house-door is called, though not the chamber-door), the word is pointed דּלת (from דּלה equals דּלת), just as the prophet intentionally chooses the feminine חבי instead of חבה. The nation is thought of as feminine in this particular instance (cf., Isaiah 54:7-8); because Jehovah, its avenger and protector, is acting on its behalf, whilst in a purely passive attitude it hides itself in Him. Just as Noah, behind whom Jehovah shut the door of the ark, was hidden in the ark whilst the water-floods of the judgment poured down without, so should the church be shut off from the world without in its life of prayer, because a judgment of Jehovah was at hand. "He goeth out of His place" (verbatim the same as in Micah 1:3), i.e., not out of His own divine life, as it rests within Himself, but out of the sphere of the manifested glory in which He presents Himself to the spirits. He goeth forth thence equipped for judgment, to visit the iniquity of the inhabitant of the earth upon him (the singular used collectively), and more especially their blood-guiltiness. The prohibition of murder was given to the sons of Noah, and therefore was one of the stipulations of "the covenant of old" (Isaiah 24:5). The earth supplies two witnesses: (1.) the innocent blood which has been violently shed (on dâmim, see Isaiah 1:15), which she has had to suck up, and which is now exposed, and cries for vengeance; and (2.) the persons themselves who have been murdered in their innocence, and who are slumbering within her. Streams of blood come to light and bear testimony, and martyrs arise to bear witness against their murderers.
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