Isaiah 8:16
Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) Bind up the testimony . . .—The intensity of feeling in which the prophetic utterance of Isaiah 8:11-15 had its birth, is followed by a corresponding solemnity at its close. The words which had been so full of meaning for the prophet himself are to be impressed on the disciples of Jehovah (for it is He who speaks), i.e., on those who looked to Isaiah as their guide and counsellor. They are to be written on a parchment roll, as men wrote the sacred Book of the Law; the roll is to be sealed up, partly as a security against its being tampered with, till the time came for its disclosure (Daniel 12:4), partly as an attestation, like the seal of a king’s letter (1Kings 21:8; Esther 3:12), that it was authentic. The two terms “testimony” (Deuteronomy 8:19; Psalm 50:7; Psalm 119:2) and “law” are here taken in their wider sense as applicable to any revelation of the mind of God. The “law of the Lord” of Psalm 19:7; Psalm 119:1 was wider and higher than the Pentateuchal code.

Isaiah 8:16. Bind up the testimony — There seems no doubt that the person here introduced speaking, is God the Father. By the testimony, and the law or doctrine, the prophet understands one and the same thing, as he doth also Isaiah 8:20, namely, the word of God, and especially that which is the main scope thereof, the doctrine of the Messiah, which, though now professed by all the Israelites, should be disowned by the generality of them, when the Messiah should come. Bind up and seal are to be understood prophetically, that is, declare and prophesy, that it shall be bound up and sealed; as Isaiah is said to make fat, and to blind, &c., Isaiah 6:10; and Jeremiah, to root out, and pull down, &c., Jeremiah 1:10, when they foretel these events. Moreover, the expressions, bind up, and seal, design the same thing; and that Isaiah , 1 st, Security, as things are bound up and sealed, that they may not be lost. So he signifies, that although this doctrine should be lost among the body of the Israelites, yet it should be preserved among his disciples; and, 2d, Secrecy, as many things are bound up, or sealed, that they may be hid from the eyes of others. And so he informs them that this doctrine now was, and should be, hid, in a great measure, from all God’s people, till the accomplishment of it; and that even when it was accomplished, it should still continue to be as a secret and mystery, known, indeed, to God’s true disciples, but hid from the body of the nation, who would not see it, and therefore should be blinded by God’s just judgment, that they should not see it, as was prophesied Isaiah 6:9-10. By God’s disciples, Hebrew, למדי, he means those who were taught of him, as it is expressed Isaiah 54:13, where this very word is used; or, every one that hath heard and learned of the Father, and therefore cometh unto Christ, as it is explained, John 6:45.8:9-16 The prophet challenges the enemies of the Jews. Their efforts would be vain, and themselves broken to pieces. It concerns us, in time of trouble, to watch against all such fears as put us upon crooked courses for our own security. The believing fear of God preserves against the disquieting fear of man. If we thought rightly of the greatness and glory of God, we should see all the power of our enemies restrained. The Lord, who will be a Sanctuary to those who trust in him, will be a Stone of stumbling, and a Rock of offence, to those who make the creature their fear and their hope. If the things of God be an offence to us, they will undo us. The apostle quotes this as to all who persisted in unbelief of the gospel of Christ, 1Pe 2:8. The crucified Emmanuel, who was and is a Stumbling-stone and Rock of offence to unbelieving Jews, is no less so to thousands who are called Christians. The preaching of the cross is foolishness in their esteem; his doctrines and precepts offend them.Bind up - This expression is one that is applicable to a volume, or roll of writing. Thus far the prophet seems to have had the roll opened, which is mentioned in Isaiah 8:1. Now the prophecy is complete, and he directs to bind it up, or close it. Perhaps, also, it is implied that it would be useless any further to address a rebellious and headstrong people. He had delivered his message, but they disregarded it.

The testimony - The message; especially that of which Uriah and Zechariah had been called to bear witness, Isaiah 8:2. Any message from God is, however, sometimes called a testimony, as being that to which a prophet bears witness; Psalm 19:7; 2 Kings 11:12; Deuteronomy 4:45; Deuteronomy 6:17, Deuteronomy 6:20; 1 Kings 2:3; Nehemiah 9:34.

Seal - Books were made in the form of rolls, and were often sealed when completed - as we seal a letter. The mode of sealing them was not by wax only, but by uniting them by any adhesive matter, as paste, or glue. Wax in warm climates would be generally rendered useless by the heat. The meaning here is, to secure, to close up - perhaps by passing a cord or string around the volume, and making it secure, denoting that it was finished; see Daniel 8:26; Daniel 12:4.

The law - The communication or command which he had delivered, and which, being given by inspiration, had now the force of law.

Among my disciples - Most of the Jewish commentators suppose that the volume, when completed by a prophet, was given for safe keeping to his disciples, or to some employed to preserve it securely. The word disciples means those who are taught, and here means those who were taught by the prophet; perhaps the pious and holy part of the people who would listen to his instructions. The Chaldee translates this verse, 'O prophet, preserve the testimony, lest ye testify to those who will not obey; seal and hide the law, because they will not learn it.'

16. Bind up … seal—What Isaiah had before briefly noted by inscribing Maher-shalal-hash-baz in a tablet, fixed up in some public place, he afterwards wrote out more in detail in a parchment roll (Isa 30:8); this he is now to seal up, not merely in order that nothing may be added to, or taken from it, as being complete, but to imply that it relates to distant events, and is therefore to be a sealed and not understood testimony (Isa 6:9, 10), except in part among God's "disciples," that is, those who "sanctify the Lord" by obedient trust (Ps 25:14). Subsequent revelations would afterwards clear up what now was dark. So the Apocalypse explains what in Daniel was left unexplained (compare Da 8:26; 12:9). "The words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end"; but Re 22:10, "Seal not the sayings of the prophecy … for the time is at hand" (compare Re 5:1, 5, 9),

testimony—attested by Uriah and Zechariah (Isa 8:2).

law—the revelation just given, having the force of a law.

disciples—not as Maurer, Uriah and Zechariah (compare Joh 7:17; 15:15).

These are, by the consent of all, God’s words to the prophet. By the testimony and the law or doctrine (for so this word is frequently taken) he understands one and the same thing, as he doth also to wit, the word of God, and especially that which is the main scope and substance thereof, the doctrine of the Messias, which, though now professed by all the Israelites, shall be disowned by the generality of them, when the Messiah shall come.

Bind up and

seal are to be understood prophetically, Declare and prophesy that it shall be bound up and sealed; as Isaiah is said to make fat, and to blind, &c. Isaiah 6:10, and Jeremiah to root out and pull down, &c., Jeremiah 1:10, when they foretell these events. Moreover, bind up and

seal design the same thing, and that is, either,

1. Security and certainty, as things are bound up or sealed that they may not be lost. So he signifies, that although this doctrine would be lost among the body of the Israelites, yet it should be preserved among his disciples. Or,

2. Secrecy, as many things are bound up or sealed that they may be hid from the eyes of others. And so he informeth them that this doctrine now was and should be hid in a great measure among all God’s people, even till the accomplishment of it; and that even when it was accomplished, it should still continue to be as a secret and mystery, known indeed to his true disciples, but hid from the body of the nation, who would not see it, and therefore should be blinded by God’s just judgment, that they should not see it, as was prophesied, Isaiah 6:9,10. Or,

3. Both security and secrecy, signifying that it should certainly be fulfilled, yet withal kept secret from the unbelieving Jews. For why may not these two be joined in the exposition of this text, as they were in the event? By God’s disciples he means those who were taught of God, as it is expressed, Isaiah 54:13, where this very word is used; or, every one that hath heard and learned of the Father, and therefore cometh unto Christ, as it is explained, John 6:45. Bind up the testimony,.... These are not the words of the prophet, as Kimchi thinks, but of the Lord to the prophet, and are part of that instruction given him, Isaiah 8:11. By "the testimony" is meant the word of prophecy delivered to him; particularly that evangelical part of it respecting Immanuel, who was to be born of a virgin, and would be for a sanctuary to them that believe in him, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, to unbelievers; so the Gospel is called the testimony of Christ, it bearing witness of his person, office, and grace, 2 Timothy 1:8 and "binding" denotes care of it, as something valuable, that it be not lost, but committed to the trust faithful men, called disciples of Christ in the next clause, in allusion to the binding up of money, or anything of value, in bundles, to be laid up and preserved, Genesis 42:35 so the Targum,

"O prophet, keep the testimony:''

seal the law among my disciples: the disciples of Christ, the faithful of that day, and of after times, to whom this prophecy, and the "doctrine" in it, which the word "law" signifies, even the doctrine of Christ, should be transmitted or communicated, which is meant by "sealing" of it; not hiding it from them, but signifying, that while it was a sealed book, a hidden doctrine, and delivered in parables to others, it should be made known to them, and sealed and laid up by them among their treasure, and be so esteemed of; as the Gospel, the doctrine of grace, is, by the true disciples and followers of Christ; who are such as are taught of God, have learned of the Father, who continue in the word and doctrine of Christ, love his people, take up the cross and follow him, and bring forth fruit to the glory of his heavenly Father, John 6:45.

{r} Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.

(r) Though all forsake me, yet you who are mine keep my word sure sealed in your hearts.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. Cf. ch. Isaiah 30:8; Daniel 12:4. Bind up … seal] The imperatives can only be understood as a command of Jehovah to Isaiah, as in Isaiah 8:1 ff. But in the next verse Isaiah himself is the speaker, and since the change of person is somewhat abrupt, the suggestion deserves consideration that the two verbs are infs. abs. (wrongly vocalised). We might then translate: “(I will) bind up … (I will) seal.”

the testimony … the law] testimony … instruction (see on Isaiah 1:10). Both words are here used of the contents of the revelations communicated to the prophet during these months of danger and anxiety; the former describes more particularly the evidential character of the predictions, the latter refers to the practical element in the revelation (as in Isaiah 7:4-9, Isaiah 8:11-13).

among my disciples] i.e. those who had received the prophet’s message, and rallied round him as their spiritual guide.

16–18. The prophet, recognising the failure of his work as regards the nation, prepares a written record of his teaching, and deposits this as a sealed document in the custody of his disciples. By this solemn act he forms an inner circle of religious fellowship, which is the nucleus of the new people of God. See General Introd. p. xxxi.Verse 16. - Bind up the testimony, etc. The words are still those of Jehovah, addressed to his servant Isaiah. God commands that the prophecy shall be written in a roll, which is then to be carefully tied with a string and sealed, for future use. Seal the Law; rather, the instruction - the advice given in vers. 12-15 (comp. Daniel 12:4). The prophet's imploring look at Immanuel does not remain unanswered. We may see this from the fact, that what was almost a silent prayer is changed at once into the jubilate of holy defiance. "Exasperate yourselves, O nations, and go to pieces; and see it, all who are far off in the earth! Gird yourselves, and go to pieces; gird yourselves, and go to pieces! Consult counsel, and it comes to nought; speak the word, and it is not realized: for with us is God." The second imperatives in Isaiah 8:9 are threatening words of authority, having a future signification, which change into futures in Isaiah 8:19 (Ges. 130, 2): Go on exasperating yourselves רעוּ( with the tone upon the penultimate, and therefore not the pual of רעה, consociari, which is the rendering adopted in the Targum, but the kal of רעע, malum esse; not vociferari, for which רוּע, a different verb from the same root, is commonly employed), go on arming; ye will nevertheless fall to pieces (Chōttu, from Châthath, related to Câthath, Confringi, Consternari). The prophet classes together all the nations that are warring against the people of God, pronounces upon them the sentence of destruction, and calls upon all distant lands to hear this ultimate fate of the kingdom of the world, i.e., of the imperial power. The world-kingdom must be wrecked on the land of Immanuel; "for with us," as the watchword of believers runs, pointing to the person of the Savour, "with us is God."
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