Isaiah 26:21
For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.
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(21) The earth also shall disclose her blood.—Literally, her bloods (plural of intensity). The prophet has in his thoughts the reckless destruction of life which characterised the great world-powers of Assyria and Babylon. As in the case of Abel’s blood that cried from the ground (Genesis 4:16), so here the earth first brings to light the blood of those that have been slain, and then the forms of the murdered ones themselves.

26:20,21 When dangers threaten, it is good to retire and lie hid; when we commend ourselves to God to hide us, he will hide us either under heaven or in heaven. Thus we shall be safe and happy in the midst of tribulations. It is but for a short time, as it were for a little moment; when over, it will seem as nothing. God's place is the mercy-seat; there he delights to be: when he punishes, he comes out of his place, for he has no pleasure in the death of sinners. But there is hardly any truth more frequently repeated in Scripture, than God's determined purpose to punish the workers of iniquity. Let us keep close to the Lord, and separate from the world; and let us seek comfort in secret prayer. A day of vengeance is coming on the world, and before it comes we are to expect tribulation and suffering. But because the Christian looks for these things, shall he be restless and dismayed? No, let him repose himself in his God. Abiding in him, the believer is safe. And let us wait patiently the fulfilling of God's promises.For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place - That is, from heaven, which is the dwelling-place or residence of God Psalm 115:3; Ezekiel 3:12; Micah 1:3. When God executes vengeance, he is represented as coming from his abode, his dwelling-place, his capitol, as a monarch goes forth to war to destroy his foes.

To punish the inhabitants of the earth - The land of Chaldea, or of Babylon.

The earth also shall disclose her blood - Blood, in the Scriptures, often denotes "guilt." The sense here is, that the land of Chaldea would reveal its guilt; that is, the punishment which God would inflict would be a revelation of the crimes of the nation. There is a resemblance here to the language which was used respecting the blood of Abel, Genesis 4:10 : 'The voice of thy brother's blood (Hebrew as here, "bloods") crieth unto me from the ground.

And shall no more cover her slain - Shall no more be able to conceal its guilt in slaying the people of God. By these hopes, the Jews were to be comforted in their calamity; and no doubt this song was penned by Isaiah long before that captivity, in order that, in the midst of their protracted and severe trials, they might be consoled with the hope of deliverance, and might know what to do when the storms of war should rage around the place of their captivity, and when the proud city was to fall. They were not to mingle in the strife; were to take no part with either their foes or their deliverers; but were to be calm, gentle, peaceful, and to remember that all this was to effect their deliverance. Compare Exodus 14:13-14 : 'Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of Yahweh; Yahweh shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.' There are times when the children of God should look calmly on the conflicts of the people of this world. They should mingle with neither party, for they should remember that Yahweh presides over these agitations, and that their ultimate end is to bring deliverance to his church, and to advance the interests of his kingdom on the earth. Then they should be mild, gentle, prayerful; and should look up to God to make all these agitations and strifes the means of advancing the interests of his kingdom.

21. (Mic 1:3; Jude 14).

disclose … blood—(Ge 4:10, 11; Job 16:18; Eze 24:7, 8). All the innocent blood shed, and all other wrongs done, so long seemingly with impunity, shall then be avenged (Re 16:6).

Cometh out of his place; cometh down from heaven; which God in Scripture is frequently said to do, when he undertaketh any great and glorious work, either of delivering his people, or of destroying their enemies. The speech is borrowed from the manner of princes, who come out of their palaces either to sit in judgment, or to fight against their enemies, which is the case here.

The inhabitants of the earth; all the enemies of God and of his people; for these are here opposed to God’s people. Therefore take heed you be not found in the number of them.

The earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain; the innocent blood which hath been spilled upon the earth shall be brought to light, and shall be severely revenged upon the murderers. For the phrase, see on Genesis 4:10 Job 16:18 Ezekiel 24:7.

For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place,.... God, as omnipresent, is everywhere, and cannot be properly said to quit one place, and go to another; but as heaven is the seat of his majesty, and where he more manifestly displays his glory, when he is said to do anything remarkable on earth, he is said to come out of his place, and come down thither, Micah 1:3 especially in the exertion of his power and justice, in a way of punishment of sin; which is his act, his strange act; and comes off from his throne of grace and mercy, in which he delights: the allusion is to a king leaving his throne and palace, to go forth against an enemy abroad, or to quell and punish rebellious subjects: some reference may be had to the Lord's dwelling in the temple secretly, in the inward part of it, and coming out from thence in the display of his perfections, as Calvin thinks; with which may be compared Revelation 14:15,

to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; not the same as in Isaiah 26:10 for those are distinguished from the Lord's people; but carnal, worldly, and earthly men, particularly the followers of antichrist, called the inhabiters of the earth, who have committed fornication with the whore of Rome, Revelation 17:2 these the Lord will punish for their iniquity; for he punishes none but for sin, even for their idolatries, adulteries, sorceries, thefts, and murders, particularly their shedding of innocent blood, as follows; and therefore their punishment will be just, God will remember their iniquities, and retaliate; see Revelation 9:20,

the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain; when God shall make inquisition for blood, the blood of all his saints and prophets will be found in mystical Babylon, and what was hid and covered, or thought to be so, will now be discerned, and brought to light, and just punishment inflicted for it, Revelation 18:24 unless this should rather denote the great effusion of blood and carnage that will be made, so that the earth will not be able to drink it in, and the slain will lie unburied on it; see Revelation 11:13. The Targum favours the former sense,

"and the earth shall reveal the innocent blood that is shed on it, and shall no more cover her slain.''

For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her {y} blood, and shall no more cover her slain.

(y) The earth will vomit and cast out the innocent blood, which it has drunk, that it may care for vengeance against the wicked.

21. the Lord is coming forth (fut. instans) out of his place] i.e. heaven. Cf. Micah 1:3.

the earth also … blood] Uncovered blood cries for vengeance (Genesis 4:11; Ezekiel 24:7-8); and the earth, by drinking in innocent blood, seems to conspire with the murderer, by concealing his guilt. Comp. Job’s impassioned cry in Job 16:18.

shall no more cover her slain] The idea here is the same: the earth will expose the dead bodies as evidence against the persecutors. It is at least doubtful if there is any thought of actual resurrection.

Verse 21. - The Lord cometh out of his place (comp. Micah 1:3). In the Psalms God is represented as "bowing the heavens and coming down," bringing them, as it were, with him. Here (and in Micah) he quits his place in heaven, as a king quits his own country when he proceeds to take vengeance on rebels in another. The expressions are, both of them, accommodations to human modes of thought. To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; literally, to visit the iniquity of the inhabitant of the earth upon him. The earth also shall disclose her blood; literally, her bloods; i.e. her bloodsheddings; the many murders committed by man upon her surface. Isaiah denounced "murderers" in his first chapter (ver. 27). Manasseh's murders were the main cause of the first destruction of Jerusalem (2 Kings 24:4). The second destruction was equally a judgment for the innocent blood that had been shed upon the earth, "from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Bars-chins" (Matthew 23:35). Bloodshed "cries to God for vengeance" (Genesis 4:10), and will be one of the main causes of the world's final destruction (Revelation 16:6; Revelation 18:20). And shall no more cover her slain. "There is nothing covered that shall not" in the last day "be revealed, and hid that shall not be known" (Matthew 10:26). Every murder, however secret, will be brought to light, and every murderer, however unsuspected previously, denounced and punished.

Isaiah 26:21The 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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