Isaiah 25:7
And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) The face of the covering cast over all people . . .—To cover the face was, in the East, a sign of mourning for the dead (2Samuel 19:4); and to destroy that covering is to overcome death, of which it is thus the symbol. With this there probably mingled another, though kindred, thought. The man whose face is thus covered cannot see the light, and the “covering” represents the veil (2Corinthians 3:15) which hinders men from knowing God. The final victory of God includes a triumph over ignorance and sorrow, as well as over sin and death.

Isaiah

‘IN THIS MOUNTAIN’

THE VEIL OVER ALL NATIONS

Isaiah 25:7
.

The previous chapter closes with a prediction of the reign of Jehovah in Mount Zion ‘before His elders’ in Glory. The allusion apparently is to the elders being summoned up to the Mount and seeing the Glory, ‘as the body of heaven in its clearness.’ The veil in this verse is probably a similar allusion to that which covered Moses’ face. It will then be an emblem of that which obscures for ‘all nations the face of God.’ And what is that but sin?

I. Sin veils God from men’s sight.

It is not the necessary inadequacy of the finite mind to conceive of the Infinite that most tragically hides God from us. That inadequacy is compatible with true and sufficient knowledge of Him. Nor is it ‘the veils of flesh and sense,’ as we often hear it said, that hide Him. But it is our sinful moral nature that darkens His face and dulls our eyes. ‘Knowledge’ of God, being knowledge of a Person, is not merely an intellectual process. It is much more truly acquaintance than comprehension; and as such, requires, as all acquaintance does, some foundation of sympathy and appreciation.

Every sin darkens the witness to God in ourselves, In a pure nature, conscience would perfectly reveal God; but we all know too sadly and intimately how it is gradually silenced, and fails to discriminate between what pleases and what displeases God. In a pure nature, the obedient Will would perfectly reveal God and the man’s dependence on Him. We all know how sin weakens that.

Every sin diminishes our power of seeing Him in His external Revelation. Every sin ruffles the surface of the soul, which is a mirror reflecting the light that streams from Creation, from Providence, from History. A mass of black rock flung into a still lake shatters the images of the girdling woods and the overarching sky.

Every sin bribes us to forget God. It becomes our interest, as we fancy, to shut Him out of our thoughts. Adam’s impulse is to carry his guilty secret with him into hiding among the trees of the garden. We cannot shake off His presence, but we can-and when we have sinned, we have but too good reason to exercise the power-we can dismiss the thought of Him. ‘They did not like to retain God in their knowledge.’

Individual sins may seem of small moment, but an opaque veil can be woven out of very fine thread.

II. To veil God from our sight is fatal.

We imagine that to forget Him leaves us undisturbed in following aims disapproved by Him, and we spend effort to secure that false peace by fierce absorption in other pursuits, and impatient shaking off of all that might wake our sleeping consciousness of Him.

But what unconscious self-murder that is, which we take such pains to achieve! To know God is life eternal; to lose Him from our sight is to condemn all that is best in our nature, all that is most conducive to blessedness, tranquillity, and strenuousness in our lives, to languish and die. Every creature separated from God is cut off from the fountain of life, and loses the life it drew from the fountain, of whatever kind that life is. And that in man which is most of kin with God languishes most when so cut off. And when we have blocked Him out from our field of vision, all that remains for us to look at suffers degradation, and becomes phantasmal, poor, unworthy to detain, and impotent to satisfy, our hungry vision.

III. The Veil is done away in Christ.

He shows us God, instead of our own false conceptions of Him, which are but distorted refractions of His true likeness. Only within the limits of Christ’s revelation is there knowledge of God, as distinguished from guesses, doubtful inferences, partial glimpses. Elsewhere, the greatest certitude as to Him is a ‘peradventure’; Jesus alone says ‘Verily, verily.’

Jesus makes us able to see God.

Jesus makes us delight in seeing Him.

All dread of the ‘steady whole of the Judge’s face’ is changed to the loving heart’s joy in seeing its Beloved.

IV. The Veil is wholly removed hereafter.

The prophecy from which the text is taken is obviously not yet fulfilled. It waits for the perfect condition of redeemed manhood in another life. But even then, the chief reason why the Christian is warranted in cherishing an unpresumptuous hope that he will know even as he is known is not that then he will have dropped the veil of flesh and sense, but that he will have dropped the thicker, more stifling covering of sin, and, being perfectly like God, will be able perfectly to gaze on Him, and, perfectly gazing on Him, will grow ever more perfectly like Him.

The choice for each of us is whether the veil will thicken till it darkens the Face altogether, and that is death; or whether it will thin away till the last filmy remnant is gone, and ‘we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.’

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.And he will destroy - Hebrew, 'He will swallow up,' that is, he will abolish, remove, or take away.

In this mountain the face of the covering - In mount Zion, or in Jerusalem. This would be done in Jerusalem, or on the mountains of which Jerusalem was a part, where the great transactions of the plan of redemption would be accomplished. The word 'face' here is used as it is frequently among the Hebrews, where the face of a thing denotes its aspect. or appearance, and then the thing itself. Thus 'the face of God' is put for God himself; the 'face of the earth' for the earth itself; and the 'face of the vail' means the veil itself, or the appearance of the veil. To cover the head or the face was a common mode of expressing grief (see 2 Samuel 15:30; 2 Samuel 19:5; Esther 6:12). It is probable that the expression here is taken from this custom, and the veil over the nations here is to be understood as expressive of the ignorance, superstition, crime, and wretchedness that covered the earth.

7. face of … covering—image from mourning, in which it was usual to cover the face with a veil (2Sa 15:30). "Face of covering," that is, the covering itself; as in Job 41:13, "the face of his garment," the garment itself. The covering or veil is the mist of ignorance as to a future state, and the way to eternal life, which enveloped the nations (Eph 4:18) and the unbelieving Jew (2Co 3:15). The Jew, however, is first to be converted before the conversion of "all nations"; for it is "in this mountain," namely, Zion, that the latter are to have the veil taken off (Ps 102:13, 15, 16, 21, 22; Ro 11:12). The face of the covering; which is put either,

1. For the covering of the face, by an hypallage, as silver of shekels is put for shekels of silver, Leviticus 5:15; or,

2. For the covering or

veil, as the next clause expounds it; the word face being oft superfluously used in the Hebrew language, as Genesis 1:2,29, and elsewhere. The veil; the veil of ignorance of God, and of the true religion, which then was upon the Gentiles, and now is upon the Jews, 2 Corinthians 3:14-16, which, like a veil, covers men’s eyes, and keeps them from discerning between things that differ. It may be also an allusion either to the veil which was put upon Moses’s face, Exodus 34:33,34, or to the veil of the sanctuary, by which the persons without it were kept from the sight of the ark. This is a manifest prophecy concerning the illumination and conversion of the Gentiles.

And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people,.... Or, "the covering of the face" (f); that which has covered the face of all people; that darkness which has been spread over them, partly by Mahomet, and his Alcoran, and partly by the pope of Rome, and his party; the covering of human doctrines and traditions seems chiefly intended, which now will be removed, as well as all Pagan and Mahometan darkness, through the clear ministration of the everlasting Gospel, which will be spread with power, and in its purity, throughout the whole world; see Isaiah 60:1 more especially this may respect the light and glory of the New Jerusalem state, in which Christ will be the light thereof, and the nations of them that are saved shall walk in it, and Satan will be bound a thousand years, that he may not deceive the nations any more, Revelation 21:23.

and the veil that is spread over all nations; meaning the same as before; the veil or covering of darkness and ignorance, with which the nations are covered, either Papal, Pagan, and Mahometan; particularly, respect may be had to the veil that is upon the Jewish nation, which remains to this day, and will be taken off when it shall turn to the Lord, 2 Corinthians 3:13 this may be said in allusion to the veil on Moses's face, when he spake to the people, Exodus 34:33 as the former expression may be to the covering or wrapper about the face of dead men, John 11:44 for they that sit in spiritual darkness, are in the region of the shadow of death.

(f) "velum faciei", Piscator.

And he will destroy on this mountain {i} the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations.

(i) Meaning, that ignorance and blindness, by which we are kept back from Christ.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7. the face of the covering … nations] More literally: the surface of the veil that veils all the peoples, and the covering that is woven over all the nations. The phrase “surface of the veil” is peculiar, but a similar expression is found in Job 41:13. It is probably to be explained as gen. of apposition—“the veil-surface.” The veil is not, as might be supposed, a symbol of spiritual blindness (2 Corinthians 3:14 ff.), but of sorrow; the figure being taken from the practice of covering the head in token of mourning (see 2 Samuel 15:30; 2 Samuel 19:4; Jeremiah 14:3-4; Esther 6:12). The prophet has already spoken of the profound wretchedness in which the world is plunged (ch. Isaiah 24:7-12).

Verse 7. - He will destroy... the face of the covering. According to some, the "covering cast ever all people" is death, and the second clause of the verse is a mere repetition of the first. But, though the heads of criminals were covered when they were led to execution (Esther 7:8), yet death itself is never elsewhere called a "covering." May not the prophet have in view that "veil" or "covering" of misconception and prejudice, whereof St. Paul speaks as lying "on the hearts of the Jewish nation," and preventing them from discerning the true sense of Scripture (2 Corinthians 3:15)? Certainly one of the great curses of humanity while here is its inability to see things as they really are - its colored, distorted, prejudiced, views of life and death, of this world and the next, of self-interest, duty, happiness. This "veil" is certainly to be done away; for "now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face; now we know in part, but then shall we know even as we are known" (2 Corinthians 13:12). Isaiah 25:7Although the feast is one earth, it is on an earth which has been transformed into heaven; for the party-wall between God and the world has fallen down: death is no more, and all tears are for ever wiped away. "And He casts away upon this mountain the veil that veiled over all peoples, and the covering that covered over all nations. He puts away death for ever; and the Lord Jehovah wipes the tear from every face; and He removes the shame of His people from the whole earth: for Jehovah hath spoken it." What Jehovah bestows is followed by what He puts away. The "veil" and "covering" (massēcâh, from nâsac equals mâsâc, Isaiah 22:8, from sâcac, to weave, twist, and twist over equals to cover) are not symbols of mourning and affliction, but of spiritual blindness, like the "veil" upon the heart of Israel mentioned in 2 Corinthians 3:15. The penē hallōt (cf., Job 41:5) is the upper side of the veil, the side turned towards you, by which Jehovah takes hold of the veil to lift it up. The second hallōt stands for הלּט (Ges. 71, Anm. 1), and is written in this form, according to Isaiah's peculiar style (vid., Isaiah 4:6; Isaiah 7:11; Isaiah 8:6; Isaiah 22:13), merely for the sake of the sound, like the obscurer niphal forms in Isaiah 24:3. The only difference between the two nouns is this: in lōt the leading idea is that of the completeness of the covering, and in massēcâh that of its thickness. The removing of the veil, as well as of death, is called בּלּע, which we find applied to God in other passages, viz., Isaiah 19:3; Psalm 21:10; Psalm 55:10. Swallowing up is used elsewhere as equivalent to making a thing disappear, by taking it into one's self; but here, as in many other instances, the notion of receiving into one's self is dropped, and nothing remains but the idea of taking away, unless, indeed, abolishing of death may perhaps be regarded as taking it back into what hell shows to be the eternal principle of wrath out of which God called it forth. God will abolish death, so that there shall be no trace left of its former sway. Paul gives a free rendering of this passage in 1 Corinthians 15:54, κατεπόθη ὁ θάνατος εἰς νῖκος (after the Aramaean netzach, vincere). The Syriac combines both ideas, that of the Targum and that of Paul: absorpta est mors per victoriam in sempiternum. But the abolition of death is not in itself the perfection of blessedness. There are sufferings which force out a sigh, even after death has come as a deliverance. But all these sufferings, whose ultimate ground is sin, Jehovah sweeps away. There is something very significant in the use of the expression דּמעה (a tear), which the Apocalypse renders πᾶν δάκρυον (Revelation 21:4). Wherever there is a tear on any face whatever, Jehovah wipes it away; and if Jehovah wipes away, this must be done most thoroughly: He removes the cause with the outward symptom, the sin as well as the tear. It is self-evident that this applies to the church triumphant. The world has been judged, and what was salvable has been saved. There is therefore no more shame for the people of God. Over the whole earth there is no further place to be found for this; Jehovah has taken it away. The earth is therefore a holy dwelling-place for blessed men. The new Jerusalem is Jehovah's throne, but the whole earth is Jehovah's glorious kingdom. The prophet is here looking from just the same point of view as Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:28, and John in the last page of the Apocalypse.
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