Isaiah 33:20
Look on Zion, the city of our solemnities: your eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) Look upon Zion . . .—The words sound like an echo of Psalms 46, 48, which were probably written by the sons of Korah on the destruction of Sennacherib’s army. Men had seen Zion desecrated by Ahaz, besieged by Sennacherib; now they should see it once again as it had been at the beginning of Hezekiah’s reign, emphatically a “city of solemnities,” a tent that shall not be removed, the latter words probably referring to Sennacherib’s threat of deportation (Isaiah 36:17).

Isaiah 33:20-22. Look upon Zion — Contemplate Zion’s beauty and safety, and her glorious and peculiar privileges; the city of our solemnities — This was the chief part of Zion’s glory and happiness, that God was solemnly worshipped, and the solemn assemblies and feasts kept in her. Thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, &c. — What is here predicted was but very obscurely and imperfectly fulfilled in the literal Zion; but was, and will be, clearly and fully accomplished in the mystical Zion, the church of God, in the times of the gospel, against which we are assured the gates of hell shall not prevail, Matthew 16:18. There — In and about Zion, the glorious Lord will be a place of broad rivers — Though we have nothing but a small and contemptible brook to defend and refresh us, yet God will be as sure a defence, and source of consolation to us, as if we were surrounded with great rivers. Wherein shall go no galley — No ships of the enemies shall be able to come into this river to annoy us. For the Lord is our judge — To judge for us, to plead our cause against our enemies, as the ancient judges of Israel did. The Lord is our lawgiver, &c. — Our chief governor, to whom it belongs to give laws, and to defend his people.33:15-24 The true believer watches against all occasions of sin. The Divine power will keep him safe, and his faith in that power will keep him easy. He shall want nothing needful for him. Every blessing of salvation is freely bestowed on all that ask with humble, believing prayer; and the believer is safe in time and for ever. Those that walk uprightly shall not only have bread given, and their water sure, but they shall, by faith, see the King of kings in his beauty, the beauty of holiness. The remembrance of the terror they were in, shall add to the pleasure of their deliverance. It is desirable to be quiet in our own houses, but much more so to be quiet in God's house; and in every age Christ will have a seed to serve him. Jerusalem had no large river running by it, but the presence and power of God make up all wants. We have all in God, all we need, or can desire. By faith we take Christ for our Prince and Saviour; he reigns over his redeemed people. All that refuse to have Him to reign over them, make shipwreck of their souls. Sickness is taken away in mercy, when the fruit of it is the taking away of sin. If iniquity be taken away, we have little reason to complain of outward affliction. This last verse leads our thoughts, not only to the most glorious state of the gospel church on earth, but to heaven, where no sickness or trouble can enter. He that blotteth out our transgressions, will heal our souls.Look upon Zion - Lowth renders this, 'Thou shalt see Zion,' by Changing the Hebrew text in conformity with the Chaldee. There is no doubt that this accords with the sense of the passage, but there is no authority for the change It stands in contrast with what had been said in Isaiah 33:19. There, the prophet had said that they should no more see those foreign armies that were coming to invade them. Here he directs them to look upon Zion, implying that they should be permitted to behold Zion in a situation such as he proceeds to describe it. 'You shall not see that foreign army carrying desolation as they design through the city and the land. They shall be destroyed. But behold Zion! Her you shall see quiet, prosperous, happy, peaceful.'

The city of our solemnities - Where the religious solemnities of the nation were celebrated.

A quiet habitation - Free from invasion, and from the terrors of war.

A tabernacle - A tent; a dwelling, such as was common in the nomadic mode of life in the East. The whole city is described under the image of a tent that is fixed and undisturbed, where the family may reside in safety and comfort.

Not one of the stakes thereof - The 'stakes' here refer to the poles or fixtures which were driven into the ground in order to fasten the tent, to enable them to spread it, or to the small stakes or pins that were driven in the ground in order to secure the cords by which the tent was extended. The drawing in the book will give you an idea of the mode in which tents were commonly pitched, and will serve to explain this passage, as well as the similar passage in Isaiah 54:2.

Shall ever be removed - It shall be a fixed and permanent habitation. The word 'ever' must mean an indefinite period of duration. Sennacherib had designed to blot out the name of the people of God, and destroy their separate and independent existence. The prophet says that that should never be done. Jerusalem, the residence of his people and the emblem of his church, would be safe, and would not be destroyed. There would always be a safe and quiet abode for the friends of the Most High. In this sense it accords with the declaration of the Saviour, that the gates of hell should not prevail against his church.

Neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken - Cords were used in tents to fasten the cloth to the poles, or to fasten it to the pins which had been driven into the ground, in order to extend the cloth, and to make it firm.

20. solemnities—solemn assemblies at the great feasts (see on [751]Isa 30:29; [752]Ps 42:4; [753]Ps 48:12).

not … taken down … removed—image from captives "removed" from their land (Isa 36:17). There shall be no more "taking away" to an enemy's land. Or else, from nomads living in shifting tents. The saints, who sojourned once in tabernacles as pilgrims, shall have a "building of God—eternal in the heavens" (2Co 5:1; Heb 11:9, 10; compare Isa 54:2).

stakes—driven into the ground; to these the "cords" were fastened. Christ's Church shall never fall (Mt 16:18). So individual believers (Re 3:12).

Look upon Zion; contemplate Zion’s beauty and safety, and her glorious and peculiar privileges; it is an object worthy of thy deepest meditation.

The city of our solemnities: this he mentions, as the chief part of Zion’s glory and happiness, that God was solemnly worshipped, and the solemn assemblies and feasts kept in her. A quiet habitation, &c.; which was but very obscurely and imperfectly fulfilled in the literal Zion; but was clearly and fully accomplished in the mystical Zion, the church of God in the times of the gospel, against which, we are assured, that the gates of hell shall not prevail, Matthew 16:18. Look upon Zion,.... Instead of such terrible objects as before described, a very amiable and lovely one is presented to view; even Zion, the church of God, beloved by him, chosen for his habitation, a strong city, a perfection of beauty, and the joy of the whole earth. The Targum is,

"O Zion, thou shalt see their fall;''

the fall of her enemies before mentioned; as at this time the church will see the fall both of the eastern and western antichrist. But the words are an exhortation to the saints and people of God, to behold the safety, peace, and prosperity of the church, now freed from all its enemies:

the city of our solemnities; a "city", for its situation, foundation, walls, and building; for its number and sorts of inhabitants; for its wholesome laws and choice privileges: a city of "solemnities", where the saints solemnly assemble together for religious worship; where the word of God is, solemnly preached, and where the ordinances are solemnly administered, and the sacrifices of prayer and praise are solemnly offered up:

thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation; or the church of God in Gospel times, and particularly in the latter day: see Hebrews 12:22 and by which name the church is called in its more glorious state, Revelation 21:2 which is the "habitation" of God, Father, Son, and Spirit; and of saints, where they dwell, or however will in the latter day, safely, quietly, pleasantly, and comfortably; for then will it be, and be "seen" and enjoyed, as a "quiet" one; for now will the saints live in peace one with another; there will be no more envy, vexations, animosities, and divisions; this will be the Philadelphian church state, when brotherly love shall everywhere prevail, and when they shall also be entirely free from the persecutions of enemies; none shall hurt and destroy in all the holy mountain, Isaiah 11:9. Some render it a "sheepfold" (f); Christ is the shepherd, the saints are his sheep, the church is the fold where they are gathered, fed, and preserved, and lie in safety, and peace: and

a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; as the tabernacle of Moses was; or the tents of shepherds, soldiers, and sojourners are, to which the allusion may be; and so is expressive of the continuance of the church, which shall not now be removed from place to place, as it has been, but shall be fixed and settled all over the world, and so remain to the end of time, an immovable tabernacle; and especially so it will be when the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, Revelation 21:3,

not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken; alluding to tents and tabernacles made of curtains, fastened by cords to stakes, by which they are supported. Not only ministers of the Gospel, but every true believer, is as a "stake" or pillar in the church of God, which shall never be removed, Revelation 3:12 never removed from the heart and love of God; nor out of the hands of Christ, and an interest in him; nor out of the family of God, or from the privileges of it; nor from Christ's body, the church, which is his fulness. The "cords" with which these are all held together, which shall never be broken, are the everlasting love of God, electing grace, the covenant and its promises, the word and ordinances, which always remain firm and sure, and secure the stability and continuance of the church of God.

(f) "caulam", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
20. For solemnities, render festal assembly.

a tabernacle that shall not be taken down] Better (as R.V.), a tent that shall not be removed. For the figure, cf. Jeremiah 10:20.

20, 21. The permanent peace and inviolability of Jerusalem, the centre of the true religion: see ch. Isaiah 32:18.Verse 20. - Look upon Zion, etc.; i.e. turn thy thoughts, O Judah, from the past to the present - from the time of the siege to the time after the siege terminated. The city of our solemnities; or, of our festal meetings; the city where we celebrate our Passovers, our Feasts of Weeks, our Feasts of Ingathering, and the like. A tent that shall not be taken down. There is, perhaps, a reference to Sennacherib's threat to remove the entire population from Jerusalem to a far country (Isaiah 36:19). This threat should not take effect. Not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed. By "the stakes" are meant "the tent-pegs," to which the ropes are fastened which keep the tent firm (comp. Exodus 27:10; Exodus 38:18, 31; Judges 4:21). The promise that they shall "never" be removed must be understood either as conditional on the people's walking uprightly (ver. 15), or as a promise of a long continuance merely. But the prophet, while addressing Asshur, does not overlook those sinners of his own nation who are deserving of punishment. The judgment upon Asshur is an alarming lesson, not only for the heathen, but for Israel also; for there is no respect of persons with Jehovah. "Hear, ye distant ones, what I have accomplished; and perceive, ye near ones, my omnipotence! The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling seizes the hypocrites: who of us can abide with devouring fire? who of us abide with everlasting burnings?" Even for the sinners in Jerusalem also there is no abiding in the presence of the Almighty and Just One, who has judged Asshur (the act of judgment is regarded by the prophet as having just occurred); they must either repent, or they cannot remain in His presence. Jehovah, so far as His wrath is concerned, is "a consuming fire" (Deuteronomy 4:24; Deuteronomy 9:3); and the fiery force of His anger is "everlasting burnings" (mōkedē ‛ōlâm), inasmuch as it consists of flames that are never extinguished, never burn themselves out. And this God had His fire and His furnace in Jerusalem (Isaiah 31:9), and had just shown what His fire could do, when once it burst forth. Therefore do the sinners inquire in their alarm, whilst confessing to one another (lânū; cf., Amos 9:1) that none of them can endure it, "Who can dwell with devouring fire?" etc. (gūr with the acc. loci, as in Psalm 5:5).
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