Isaiah 46:12
Listen to me, you stouthearted, that are far from righteousness:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) Ye stouthearted.—The word, like analogous terms in Ezekiel 2:4; Ezekiel 3:7, implies at once obduracy and ignorance. Such as these are self-excluded at once from the “righteousness” and the “salvation” of Jehovah, which ultimately imply, and coincide with each other. Their unfaithfulness, however, does not hinder the faithfulness of God. He brings near His salvation to all who are ready to receive it. (Comp. Isaiah 56:1.)

Isaiah

A RIGHTEOUSNESS NEAR AND A SWIFT SALVATION

Isaiah 46:12 - Isaiah 46:13
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God has promised that He will dwell with him that is humble and of a contrite heart. Jesus has shed the oil of His benediction on the poor in spirit. It is the men who form the exact antithesis to these characters who are addressed here. The ‘stout-hearted’ are those who, being untouched in conscience and ignorant of their sin, are self-reliant and almost defiant before God. That temper is branded here, though, of course, there is a sense in which a stout heart is a priceless possession, but that sort of stoutness of heart is best secured by the contrite of heart. Those who are far from righteousness are those who are not only sinful in act, but do not desire to be otherwise, having no approximation or drawing towards a nobler life, by aspiration or effort.

To such men God speaks, as in the tone of a royal proclamation; and what should we expect to hear pealing from His lips? Words of rebuke, warning, condemnation? No; His voice is gentle and wooing, and does not threaten blows, but proffers blessings: ‘I will bring near My righteousness. It shall not be far off,’ though the stout-hearted maybe ‘far from’ it. Here we have a divine proclamation of a divine Love that will not let us away from its presence; of a divine Work for us that is finished without us; of an all-sufficient Gift to us.

I. A divine proclamation of a divine Love that will not let us away from its presence.

There is a great contest between God and man: man seeking to withdraw from God, and God following in patient, persistent love.

1. In general terms God keeps near us, however far away we go from Him.

Think of our forgetfulness of Him and His continual thought of us. Think of our alienated hearts and His unchanging love.

We cannot turn away His care, we cannot exhaust His compassion, we cannot alienate His heart. All men everywhere are objects of these, as in every corner of the world the sky is overhead, and all lands have sunshine.

What a picture of divine patience and placability that truth points for us! It shows the Father coming after His prodigal son, and so surpasses even the pearl of the parables.

2. The special reference to Christ’s work.

That work is the exhibition in manhood and to men of a perfect righteousness.

It is the implanting in the corrupt world of a new beginning. It is the clothing us with Christ’s righteousness, for which we are forgiven and in which we are sanctified.

So Christ’s work is God’s coming to bring near His righteousness, and now ‘it is nigh thee in thy mouth and in thy heart.’

II. A divine proclamation of a divine Work which is finished without us.

The divine righteousness and its consequence are here represented as being brought near while men are still ‘stout-hearted.’ We must feel the emphasis laid on ‘I will bring near My righteousness,’ and the impression of merciful speed given by ‘My salvation shall not tarry.’ The whole suggests such thoughts as these:-

The divine love is not drawn out by anything in us, but pours out on us, even while we are far off and indifferent to it. His bringing near of righteousness, and setting His salvation to run very swiftly side by side with it, originates in Himself. It is the self-impelled and self-fed flow of a fountain, and we need no pump or machinery to draw it forth.

The divine work is accomplished without man’s co-operation.

‘It is finished,’ was Christ’s dying cry. But what is finished?- Bringing the righteousness near. What still remains to be done?-Making it mine. And that is accomplished by faith.

It is mine if by faith I claim it as mine, and knit myself with Him who is righteousness and salvation for every man that they may be accessible to and possessed by any man.

A man may be far from righteousness though it is near him and all around him. Like Gideon’s fleece, he may be dry when all is wet, or like some rock in a field, barren and sullen, while all around the corn is waving.

III. The proclamation of an all-sufficient Gift.

Righteousness, salvation, glory, are here brought together in significant sequence. They are but several names for the same divine gift, looked at from different angles. A diamond flashes varying prismatic hues from its different facets.

That encyclopaedical gift, which in regard to man considered as sinful brings pardon and a new nature ‘in righteousness and holiness of truth,’ brings deliverance from peril and from every form of evil and death, to him considered as exposed to consequences of sin both physical and moral, and a true though limited participation in the divine glory, even now, with the hope of entering into the blaze of it hereafter, to him as considered as made in the divine image and having lost it.

And all this wonderful triple hope, rapturous and impossible as it seems when we think of man as he is, and of each of ourselves as we each feel ourselves to be, is for us a sober certainty and a fact sufficiently accomplished, to give firm ground for our largest expectations if we hold fast by Jesus who brings that all-sufficient gift of God within reach of each of us. The divine patience and love follow us in all our wild wanderings, praying us ‘with much entreaty that we should receive the gift.’ Jesus, who is God’s righteousness and love incarnate, beseeches us to take Him, and in Him righteousness, salvation, and glory.Isaiah 46:12-13. Hearken unto me, ye stout-hearted — “God had addressed those kindly who had suffered themselves, through imprudence, to be seduced from the right way, and whose conversion might more reasonably be expected; but he speaks more severely to the hypocrites, the incredulous, the fierce and proud in heart, who obstinately doubted the completion of his excellent promises: ‘O you, says he, who are yourselves far from faith, truth, integrity, and all true piety, but full of deceit, hypocrisy, incredulity, and who complain that my salvation is far off, and call my fidelity in question, hearken to me, and know that my righteousness, or justification, is not far off, but near at hand, and shortly to be revealed.’” I bring near my righteousness — Though you are unrighteous, I will show myself a righteous and faithful God, making good my promise of delivering you out of Babylon after seventy years. It shall not be far off — Namely, my work of saving you from captivity. I will place salvation in Zion — I will bring my people from Babylon to Zion, and there I will save them from all their enemies; for Israel my glory — In whom I will again glory, as my people, and the illustrious monuments of my wisdom, power, truth, and goodness; whom I will make a great and glorious people, though now they are mean and contemptible, and among whom I will once more settle my glorious presence and ordinances. 46:5-13 Here the folly of those who made idols, and then prayed to them, is exposed. How does the profuseness of idolaters shame the niggardliness of many who call themselves God's servants, but are for a religion which costs them nothing! The service of sin always costs a great deal. God puts it to them what senseless, helpless things idols are. Let, then, the Jews show themselves men, avoiding such abominations. Many Scripture prophecies, delivered long ago, are not yet fulfilled; but the fulfilling of some is an earnest that the rest will come to pass. Nothing can help more to make us easy, than to be assured that God will do all his pleasure. Even those who know not and mind not God's revealed will, are called and used to fulfil the counsels of his secret will. Heaven and earth shall pass away, sooner than one tittle of the word of God. Obstinate sinners are addressed. Such were far from acceptance, but they were summoned to hearken to the word of the Lord. The salvation of a sinner begins with a humble and contrite heart, that trembles at God's word, with godly sorrow working true repentance, and faith in his mercy, through the obedience unto death of our Divine Surety. Christ, as the Divine righteousness and salvation to his people, would come in the appointed time. His salvation abides in his church for all believers.Hearken unto me - This is designed to call the attention of the skeptical and unbelieving Jews to the important truth which he was delivering. Many among them might be disposed to say that the fulfillment was delayed, and he therefore calls upon them to attend particularly to his solemn declarations.

Ye stout-hearted - The phrase 'stout-hearted' would naturally, denote those who were bold and courageous. But here it evidently means those whose hearts were strong against God; who nerved themselves to resist and oppose his plans and government; who were stubborn and rebellious.

12. stout-hearted—stubborn in resisting God (Ps 76:5; Ac 7:51).

far from righteousness—(Isa 59:9; Hab 2:4).

Ye stout-hearted; or, ye whose hearts are proud, or hard, or stubborn. He speaks either,

1. To the Babylonians, You who are stout against God, and say or think that neither God nor any man can deliver my people out of your hands: or rather,

2. To the house of Jacob, expressed Isaiah 46:3, where he bespeaks them in the same words here used, hearken to me; and to whom alone he directeth his speech in this whole chapter; for though he speaketh of the Babylonians, yet he doth not speak to them; and to whom the prophet, for the most part, turneth his speech in all his prophecies, unless where there is something in the text or context which determineth it to some other person or people. And this very crime of stoutness or hardness of heart is most justly and most frequently charged upon the Jews by their own prophets every where, because of their gross contempt of and incorrigibleness under all God’s words and works. And the prophet speaks this either to the Jews of his generation, or rather to that generation which was carried captive to Babylon, whose stout-heartedness is particularly noted and reproved, Zechariah 7:11,12. Compare Malachi 3:1,3-15.

That are far from righteousness; that are not only void of, but enemies to righteousness and true holiness; that give up yourselves to wickedness, that despise my counsels, and promises, and threatenings. Hearken unto me, ye stout hearted,.... This is not an address to the Chaldeans, as Kimchi and others think, who were merciless and cruel to the Jews, and far from doing that which was right unto them, but oppressed them, and would not let them go; but to the Jews themselves, at least to the wicked and profligate among them, who were always a stouthearted, stiffnecked, and a rebellious people; and even those who made more presences to religion were only self-righteous, and were far from true righteousness. The whole may be applied to all persons destitute of the grace of God, professors or profane, who are stout or stubborn hearted; have hard and impenitent hearts; proud and haughty in their hearts; proud of their wisdom, power, and strength; stout in their hearts against God, as appears by their words and actions; oppose themselves to the people of God, his word and ordinances; and some so daring as to make a mock at sin, at religion, and a future state, and outbrave death itself; though when God calls them to an account, as he sometimes does by his judgments here, and will at the last judgment hereafter; or by the workings of his Spirit upon them, convincing them of sin, righteousness, and judgment; their hearts fail, and they cannot be strong and endure; when his word comes with power, and they hear it, and feel the energy of it, they are cut to the heart, and their stout and proud spirits are brought down, and made to submit: even such

that are far from righteousness; as all men are in a state of nature, none are righteous, no, not one, but are full of all unrighteousness; even those that are the most righteous and religious, externally, are without a righteousness; they do not attain to one by the law of works; they go about to establish their own, and do not submit to the righteousness of God, and so are far from it: and indeed all God's elect, in a state of unregeneracy, are far from any knowledge of the righteousness of Christ, they not being yet convinced of the need of it, and it having not yet been revealed and applied unto them, and received by faith; now these are called upon to hear the word externally, which coming with power, causes them to hear spiritually what follows:

Hearken to me, ye stubborn in heart, that are far from {l} righteousness:

(l) Who by your incredulity would prevent the performance of my promise.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12, 13. A call to repentance based on the nearness of deliverance.

ye stouthearted] The phrase means in Psalm 76:5 “courageous”; here it is rather akin to “stiff-hearted” in Ezekiel 2:4. The LXX. reads “ye that have lost heart” (אבדי לב for אבירי לב), and this is accepted as the true text by certain commentators. The sense is too weak in this connexion; if there are men who on the eve of deliverance are “far from righteousness” they are surely those who are in more or less conscious opposition to the divine purpose (cf. Isaiah 45:9). “Righteousness” in Isaiah 46:13 is parallel to “salvation,” and denotes the manifestation of Jehovah’s righteousness in the deliverance of Israel. In this verse it is more natural to understand it in its forensic sense, of the right relation to God, which is the condition of sharing in the outward salvation. see Appendix, Note II.Verses 12, 13. - AN ADMONITION TO THE OBDURATE IN ISRAEL. God's mercy extends even to those who resist his grace. They who have been hitherto stiff-necked and "far from righteousness," have a special warning addressed to them, Salvation is drawing nigh; the deliverance of Israel is approaching; there is no time to lose; will they not east in their lot with the true Israel, and take advantage of the deliverance when it comes? Verse 12. - Ye stout-hearted (comp. Ezekiel 2:6; Ezekiel 3:7; and infra, Isaiah 48:4). The LXX. translate by σκληροκάρδιοι. The negative answer to this question is the direct result of what precedes, but a still further proof is given in Isaiah 46:6, Isaiah 46:7. "They who pour gold out of the bag, and weigh silver with the balance, hire a goldsmith to make it into a god, that they may fall down, yea, throw themselves down. They lift it up, carry it away upon their shoulder, and set it down in its place: there it stands; from its place it does not move: men also cry to it, but it does not answer; it saves no one out of distress." There is no necessity for assuming that הזּלים is used in the place of the finite verb, as Hitzig imagines, or as equivalent to זלים הם, as Rosenmller and Gesenius suppose; but up to ישׂכּרוּ the whole is subject, and therefore ישׁקלוּ is the point at which the change into the finite verb occurs (Ges. 131, 2). The point in hazzâlı̄m is not the extravagant expenditure, as Ewald thinks, but the mean origin of the god, which commences with the pouring out of gold from a purse (zūl equals zâlal, to shake, to pour out). Qâneh is the lever of the scales (κανών). The metal weighed out is given to a goldsmith, who plates the idol with the gold, and makes the ornaments for it of silver. When it is finished, they lift it up, or shoulder it (ישּׂאהוּ with a distinctive Great Telisha), carry it home, and set it down in the place which it is to have under it (תּחתּיו). There it stands firm, immoveable, and also deaf and dumb, hearing no one, answering no one, and helping no one. The subject to יצעק is any צעק. The first admonition closes here. The gods who are carried fall without being able to save themselves, whereas Israel's God carries and saves His people; He, the Incomparable, more especially in contrast with the lifeless puppets of idols.
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