Isaiah 42:23
Who among you will give ear to this? who will hearken and hear for the time to come?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
42:18-25 Observe the call given to this people, and the character given of them. Multitudes are ruined for want of observing that which they cannot but see; they perish, not through ignorance, but carelessness. The Lord is well-pleased in the making known his own righteousness. For their sins they were spoiled of all their possessions. This fully came to pass in the destruction of the Jewish nation. There is no resisting, nor escaping God's anger. See the mischief sin makes; it provokes God to anger. And those not humbled by lesser judgments, must expect greater. Alas! how many professed Christians are blind as the benighted heathen! While the Lord is well-pleased in saving sinners through the righteousness of Christ he will also glorify his justice, by punishing all proud despisers. Seeing God has poured out his wrath on his once-favoured people, because of their sins, let us fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of us should be found to come short of it.Who among you will give ear to this? - Who is there in the nation that will be so warned by the judgments of God, that he will attend to the lessons which he designs to teach, and reform his life, and return to him? It is implied by these questions that such ought to be the effect; it is implied also that they were so sunken and abandoned that they would not do it. These judgments were a loud call on the nation to turn to God, and, in time to come, to avoid the sins which had made it necessary for him to interpose in this manner, and give them to spoil. 23. A call that they should be warned by the past judgments of God to obey Him for the time to come. Oh that you would learn from your former and dear bought experiences to be wiser for the future, and not to provoke God to your own total and final ruin!

Who among you will give ear to this?.... To this prophecy of your destruction, and to what follows concerning it:

who will hearken and hear for the time to come? and receive instruction from hence, and repent and reform? none at all; so blind, and deaf, and stupid, were they both before, and at their destruction, and even ever since; they take no notice of the hand of God upon them, nor hearken to the rod, any more than to the word of God; which seems to be what is meant by "the time to come", or "hereafter"; and this will be their case till the veil is taken away, and then they shall see and hear, and turn to the Lord.

Who among you will give ear to this? who will hearken and hear for {b} the time to come?

(b) Meaning, God's wrath.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
23. The question expresses the prophet’s wish that now at last some of the people should begin to realise the significance of their relation to Jehovah, and prepare themselves for the great deliverance.

will give ear to this] i.e. to the substance of the present exhortation,—the contrast between the ideal calling of Israel and its present position, its failure to realise its mission, and (especially) the reason of that failure (Isaiah 42:24 f.).

for the time to come] in contrast to past disobedience. It is evident that the prophet expects the mission of Israel to be realised by a conversion of the nation. The process of that conversion is powerfully described in ch. 53.

Verse 23. - Who among you will give ear? Surely there are some among you, less hardened than the rest, who will take advantage of my warning, and repent at this, the eleventh hour. God's arm was straitened; the people could not be delivered out of captivity unless they ceased in large numbers to be "blind" and "deaf" - unless they listened to the prophet's words, and profited by them. Isaiah 42:23When they ceased to be deaf to this crying contradiction, they would recognise with penitence that it was but the merited punishment of God. "Who among you will give ear to this, attend, and hear afar off? Who has give up Jacob to plundering, and Israel to the spoilers? Is it not Jehovah, against whom we have sinned? and they would not walk in His ways, and hearkened not to His law. Then He poured upon it in burning heat His wrath, and the strength of the fury of war: and this set it in flames round about, and it did not come to be recognised; it set it on fire, and it did not lay it to heart." The question in Isaiah 42:23 has not the force of a negative sentence, "No one does this," but of a wish, "O that one would" (as in 2 Samuel 23:15; 2 Samuel 15:4; Ges. 136, 1). If they had but an inward ear for the contradiction which the state of Israel presented to its true calling, and the earlier manifestations of divine mercy, and would but give up their previous deafness for the time to come: this must lead to the knowledge and confession expressed in Isaiah 42:24. The names Jacob and Israel here follow one another in the same order as in Isaiah 29:23; Isaiah 40:27 (compare Isaiah 41:8, where this would have been impracticable). זוּ belongs to לו in the sense of cui. The punctuation does not acknowledge this relative use of זו (on which, see at Isaiah 43:21), and therefore puts the athnach in the wrong place (see Rashi). In the words "we have sinned" the prophet identifies himself with the exiles, in whose sin he knew and felt that he was really involved (cf., Isaiah 6:5). The objective affirmation which follows applies to the former generations, who had sinned on till the measure became full. הלוך takes the place of the object to אבוּ (see Isaiah 1:17); the more usual expression would be ללכת; the inverted order of the words makes the assertion all the more energetic. In Isaiah 42:25 the genitive relation אפּו חמת is avoided, probably in favour of the similar ring of חמה and מלחמה. חמה is either the accusative of the object, and אפּו a subordinate statement of what constituted the burning heat (cf., Ewald, 287, k), or else an accusative, of more precise definition equals בּחמה in Isaiah 66:15 (Ges. 118, 3). The outpouring is also connected by zeugma with the "violence of war." The milchâmâh then becomes the subject. The war-fury raged without result. Israel was not brought to reflection.
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