Isaiah 4:4
When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.
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(4) When the Lord shall have washed away the filth . . .—This serves as the connecting link with Isaiah 3:16-24. The prophet has not forgotten the daughters of Zion. Jehovah will wash away, as with the baptism of repentance, the “filth,” the moral uncleanness, that lay beneath their outward show of beauty. The “blood of Jerusalem,” in the next verse, has a wide range of meaning, from the “murders” of Isaiah 1:15; Isaiah 1:21, to the Moloch sacrifices in which the women had borne a conspicuous part (Psalm 106:38; Isaiah 57:5; Ezekiel 22:2-3).

By the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.—The word for “spirit” is better taken in its more literal meaning, as breath or blast, as in Isaiah 30:27-28; Isaiah 40:7. The words indicate that the prophet saw in the “blood” of which he speaks a greater enormity than that of the daughters of Zion. The one might be washed away. The other needed, as it were, the “fiery baptism” of the wrath of Jehovah. (Comp. Isaiah 30:27; Matthew 3:11.) The Authorised Version “burning” represents the root-meaning of the word, but it is elsewhere (Isaiah 6:13; Deuteronomy 13:5; Deuteronomy 17:7) used for “destruction” generally.

Isaiah 4:4. When the Lord shall have washed away the filth, &c. — This shall be accomplished when God shall have thoroughly cleansed the Jewish nation from their sins; and shall have purged away the blood of Jerusalem — The sins of cruelty and oppression, (Isaiah 5:7,) or of bloodshed and murder, particularly in killing the prophets, and persecuting God’s servants. By the spirit of judgment and burning — By the effects of his justice and wrath in punishing them severely; by making them pass through the furnace of affliction, as it is expressed Isaiah 48:10 : or the Holy Spirit’s influences may be chiefly intended, especially as this mode of purification is opposed to the legal way, which was by water. The Holy Spirit may well be called a spirit of judgment, because he executes judgment in the church, and in the consciences of men, convincing sinners of sin, leading them to judge and condemn themselves, and humbling them before God. And the same Spirit may be properly called a spirit of burning, because he burns up and consumes the dross which is in the church, and in the hearts of sinners, operates like refiners’ fire, purges believers as gold and silver are purged, (Malachi 3:3,) inflames their souls with love to God and zeal for his glory, and transforms them into his holy nature and image. This was effectually done with respect to those Jews that embraced the gospel in the early days of Christianity.

4:2-6 Not only the setting forth Christ's kingdom in the times of the apostles, but its enlargement by gathering the dispersed Jews into the church, is foretold. Christ is called the Branch of the Lord, being planted by his power, and flourishing to his praise. The gospel is the fruit of the Branch of the Lord; all the graces and comforts of the gospel spring from Christ. It is called the fruit of the earth, because it sprang up in this world, and was suited for the present state. It will be good evidence that we are distinguished from those merely called Israel, if we are brought to see all beauty in Christ, and holiness. As a type of this blessed day, Jerusalem should again flourish as a branch, and be blessed with the fruits of the earth. God will keep for himself a holy seed. When most of those that have a place and a name in Zion, and in Jerusalem, shall be cut off by their unbelief, some shall be left. Those only that are holy shall be left, when the Son of man shall gather out of his kingdom every thing which offends. By the judgment of God's providence, sinners were destroyed and consumed; but by the Spirit of grace they are reformed and converted. The Spirit herein acts as a Spirit of judgment, enlightening the mind, convincing the conscience; also as a Spirit of burning, quickening and strengthening the affections, and making men zealously affected in a good work. An ardent love to Christ and souls, and zeal against sin, will carry men on with resolution in endeavours to turn away ungodliness from Jacob. Every affliction serves believers as a furnace, to purify them from dross; and the convincing, enlightening, and powerful influences of the Holy Spirit, gradually root out their lusts, and render them holy as He is holy. God will protect his church, and all that belong to it. Gospel truths and ordinances are the glory of the church. Grace in the soul is the glory of it; and those that have it are kept by the power of God. But only those who are weary will seek rest; only those who are convinced that a storm is approaching, will look for shelter. Affected with a deep sense of the Divine displeasure, to which we are exposed by sin, let us at once have recourse to Jesus Christ, and thankfully accept the refuge he affords.When the Lord - That is, "after" God has done this, then all that are written among the living shall be called holy. The prophet in this verse states the benefits of "affliction" in purifying the people of God. He had said, in the previous verse, that all who should be left in Zion should be called holy. He here states that "previous" to that, the defilement of the people would be removed by judgment.

Shall have washed away - The expression, "to wash," is often used to denote to "purify" in any way. In allusion to this fact is the beautiful promise in Zechariah 13:1; see the note at Isaiah 1:16.

The filth - This word here refers to their "moral" defilement - their pride, vanity, haughtiness; and perhaps to the idolatry and general sins of the people. As the prophet, however, in Isaiah 3:16-23, had particularly specified the sins of the female part of the Jewish people, the expression here probably refers especially to them, and to the judgments which were to come upon them; Isaiah 3:24. It is not departing from the spirit of this passage to remark, that the church is purified, and true religion is often promoted, by God's humbling the pride and vanity of females. A love of excessive ornament; a fondness for dress and display; and an exhibition of great gaiety, often stand grievously in the way of pure religion.

The daughters of Zion - see Isaiah 3:16.

And shall have purged - This is synonymous with the expression "to wash." It means to purify, to remove, as one removes blood from the hands by washing.

Blood of Jerusalem - Crime, blood-guiltiness - particularly the crime of "oppression, cruelty," and "robbery," which the prophet Isaiah 1:15 had charged on them.

By the spirit of judgment - This refers, doubtless, to the "calamities," or "punishment," that would come upon the nation; principally, to the Babylonian captivity. After God should have humbled and reformed the nation by a series of judgments, then they who were purified by them should be called holy. The word "spirit" here cannot be shown to be the Holy Spirit; and especially as the Holy Spirit is not represented in the Scriptures as the agent in executing judgment. It perhaps would be best denoted by the word "influence," or "power." The word properly denotes "wind, air, motion" Genesis 8:1; Job 1:19; then "breathing, exhalation, or breath" Job 7:7; Psalm 33:6; hence, it means the "soul;" and it means also God's "influence," or his putting forth his power and life-giving energy in animating and sustaining the universe; and also, as here, his putting forth any influence in accomplishing his works and designs.

And by the spirit of burning - "Fire" is often, in the Scriptures, the emblem of punishment, and also of purifying; compare the note at Matthew 3:11-12; see Malachi 3:2-3. The Chaldee translates this, 'by the word of judgment, and by the word of consuming.' The reference is to the "punishments" which would be sent to purify the people "before" the coming of the Messiah.

4. When—that is, After.

washed—(Zec 13:1).

filth—moral (Isa 1:21-25).

daughters of Zion—same as in Isa 3:16.

purged—purified by judgments; destroying the ungodly, correcting and refining the godly.

blood—(Isa 1:15).

spirit—Whatever God does in the universe, He does by His Spirit, "without the hand" of man (Job 34:20; Ps 104:30). Here He is represented using His power as Judge.

burning—(Mt 3:11, 12). The same Holy Ghost, who sanctifies believers by the fire of affliction (Mal 3:2, 3), dooms unbelievers to the fire of perdition (1Co 3:13-15).

When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion: this shall be accomplished when God hath thoroughly cleansed the Jewish nation from their sins. The blood; the blood-guiltness, and especially that of killing the Lord of life, their own Messiah.

By the Spirit of judgment, and by the Spirit of burning: this is opposed to the former legal way of purification, which was by water. By

the Spirit he seems to understand the Holy Spirit of God, to which this washing and purging work is commonly ascribed, as 1 Corinthians 6:11, and elsewhere; which Spirit did accompany the preaching of the gospel, and did this work in part in some of the Jews, and will do it more fully in the body of the nation. And this Spirit may well be called a Spirit of judgment, because it executes judgment in the church, and in the consciences of men, separating the precious from the vile, convincing men of sin, and righteousness, and judgment, John 16:8-11, manifesting the secrets of men’s hearts in the preaching of the word, 1 Corinthians 14:25; accusing, and terrifying, and punishing some, witnessing for and with others, and filling them with peace and joy in believing; hardening some, and softening and subduing others to God, as this Spirit is particularly promised to do to the Jews, Zechariah 12:10. And the same Spirit may be fitly called the Spirit of burning, as he is compared to fire, Matthew 3:11, because he doth burn up and consume the dross which is in the church, and in the minds and hearts of men, and inflames the souls of believers with love to God, and zeal for his glory.

When (n) the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion,.... By Zion is meant the church of Christ in general, his mystical body, the general assembly and church of the firstborn, written in heaven, Hebrews 12:22 and by her "daughters" particular churches, that go by the name of Christian churches, who are called the reformed churches, being such as are separated from the church of Rome; among whom there is a great deal of "filth", and which will be removed in the latter times of the Gospel dispensation; by which are designed all false doctrines, such as are contrary to the deity and sonship of Christ, and the personality of the Holy Spirit; which derogate from the grace of God in election, justification, pardon, and salvation; which detract from the blood of Christ, and deny his imputed righteousness and satisfaction; and which exalt the power and free will of man, and tend to impurity and licentiousness; these will all be removed, and the true doctrine, which secures the glory of each divine Person, asserts the free grace of God, salvation by Christ, the operations of the Spirit, and influences and engages to holiness of life, will take place. This filth likewise includes all false worship; all ordinances and institutions of men; all corruptions in the ordinances of Christ, baptism, and the Lord's supper; all forms and modes of worship that are not of God; all offices and officers, except bishops and deacons, which are of the man of sin; and all immorality and profaneness; and all wicked men, even all that offend and do iniquity, shall be taken out of Christ's kingdom and churches; there will be a thorough clearing of his floor of all filth, dirt, and chaff.

And shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof; that is, of the daughters of Jerusalem, particular churches, of which the Jerusalem above is the mother; for this is not to be understood literally of the city of Jerusalem, nor of the blood of Christ, and his servants, shed in it, purged away by the burning of it by the Romans; but of the bloodshed and persecution in Protestant churches; for a spirit of persecution has prevailed in some of them, but this shall be no more seen in the latter day; Christ's kingdom will be a peaceable kingdom, and of the peace of it there will be no end; as there will be no war in a civil sense, so neither in a religious sense; all animosities, disputes, and contentions, will cease; see Isaiah 9:7 and much less will there be any effusion of blood on account of religion, nor any that shed it; as the Targum paraphrases the words,

"and they that shed innocent blood in Jerusalem shall be removed out of it:''

it is added,

by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning; the Targum is,

"by the word of judgment, and by the word of consummation or perfection;''

by the former is meant a judicious spirit, which the Lord will give to his churches and ministers; a set of ministers will be raised up, having the everlasting Gospel, which they shall freely, fully, and openly preach unto all men; by which means the churches will be cleared of all false doctrines; clear and distinct light will be given to all the preachers of the word; the watchmen shall see eye to eye; and all Zion's children be taught of God; and this shall be universal all the world over; there will be a discerning of spirits of men and doctrines, whether of God, or not; by which good doctrines will be distinguished from bad ones, and good men from the wicked; and this will be part of the judgment which will be given to the saints of the most High, and will proceed from the Spirit of God; who will be poured out in a plenteous manner to guide the churches into all truth, as it is in Jesus; and by the latter, "the spirit of burning", is meant a burning flaming zeal; a zeal according to knowledge, against all false doctrine and worship, and for the pure doctrine and worship of Christ; which will appear in Christian ministers and churches, and also in Christian magistrates, who will hate the whore, and burn her flesh with fire; and who will be stirred up by the preachers of the Gospel to pour out the plagues on the antichristian states, Revelation 15:6 and when the fire of God's word will burn up all the wood, hay, and stubble, which the day will declare; and then will be the trying winnowing time, and those that are left will be holy unto the Lord.

(n) Or, "for the Lord shall wash away"; so Noldius, in Ebr. Concord. Part. p. 88. No. 428. which gives a reason why he "that is left in Zion, &c shall be called holy"; because "the Lord", &c. so the Septuagint version, ; and Aben Ezra observes, that "if", is used for "because."

When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the {f} blood of Jerusalem from the midst of it by the spirit of {g} judgment, and by the spirit of burning.

(f) That is, the cruelty, extortion, malice and all wickedness.

(g) When things will be addressed that were amiss.

4. If (once) Jehovah have washed, &c. Although the order is unusual this verse must be taken as a conditional sentence depending on Isaiah 4:3. spirit of burning] better, spirit of extermination (as in Isaiah 6:13; 1 Kings 22:46, &c.). The medium of the judgment is the “Spirit,” the divine energy, which is operative alike in the physical and in the moral sphere (cf. ch. Isaiah 32:15).

Verse 4. - When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion (see Isaiah 3:16-24). Sin must not be merely repented of and pardoned; it must be put away. There could be no Jerusalem, in which all should be "called holy," until the moral defilement of the daughters of Zion was swept away. Purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst (comp. Isaiah 1:15; Isaiah 59:3). It is possible, however, that the murder of infants in sacrifice to Moloch may be in the prophet's mind. Ahaz "burnt his children in the fire after the abominations of the heathen" (2 Chronicles 28:3). Manasseh did the same (2 Chronicles 33:6): and the practice was probably widespread among the people long before Isaiah's time (see Psalm 106:38; Isaiah 57:5). By the spirit of burning; or, by a blast of burning; i.e. a fiery blast which shall destroy everything (comp. Isaiah 1:31). Isaiah 4:4"When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged away the bloodguiltinesses of Jerusalem from the midst thereof, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of sifting." "When," followed by a preterite (equivalent to a fut. exact. as in Isaiah 24:13; Ges. 126, 5), introduces the circumstance, whose previous occurrence would be the condition of all the rest. The force of the future yâdiach ("shall have purged") is regulated by that of the preterite râchatz, as in Isaiah 6:11; for although, when regarded simply by itself, as in Isaiah 10:12, the future tense may suggest the idea of a future prefect, it cannot have the force of such a future. The double purification answers to the two scenes of judgment described in chapter 3. The filth of the daughters of Zion is the moral pollution hidden under their vain and coquettish finery; and the murderous deeds of Jerusalem are the acts of judicial murder committed by its rulers upon the poor and innocent. This filth and these spots of blood the Sovereign Ruler washes and purges away (see 2 Chronicles 4:6), by causing His spirit or His breath to burst in upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, both male and female. This breath is called "the spirit of judgment," because it punishes evil; and "the spirit of sifting," inasmuch as it sweeps or cleans it away. בּער is to be explained, as in Isaiah 6:13, in accordance with Deuteronomy 13:6 (5, Eng. Ver.; "put the evil away") and other passages, such especially as Isaiah 19:13; Isaiah 21:9. The rendering given in the Septuagint and Vulgate, viz., "in the spirit of burning," is founded upon the radical meaning of the verb, which signifies literally to burn up, and hence to clear away or destroy (see Comm. on Job, at Job 31:12, Eng. Tr.). Nevertheless, "burning" in connection with judgment is not definite enough, since every manifestation of divine judgment is a manifestation of fire; but it is not every judgment that has connected with it what is here implied - namely, the salutary object of burning away or, in other words, of winnowing. The "spirit" is in both instances the Spirit of God which pervades the world, not only generating and sustaining life, but also at times destroying and sifting (Isaiah 30:27-28), as it does in the case before us, in which the imperishable glory described in Isaiah 3:5 is so prepared.
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