Isaiah 44:25
That frustrates the tokens of the liars, and makes diviners mad; that turns wise men backward, and makes their knowledge foolish;
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(25) That frustrateth the tokens of the liars.—Better, of the pratersi.e., the false prophets of Babylon. It is implied that they, after the manner of the false seers of Judah (Jeremiah 23:16-17), predicted for the kings of Babylon a time of prosperity and peace.

44:21-28 Return unto me. It is the great concern of those who have backslidden from God, like the Jews of old, to hasten their return to him. The work of redemption wrought for us by Christ, encourages to hope for all blessings from him. Our transgressions and our sins are as a thick cloud between heaven and earth: sins separate between us and God; they threaten a storm of wrath. When God pardons sin, he blots out, he dispels this cloud, this thick cloud, so that the way to heaven is open again. The cloud is scattered by the Sun of righteousness; it is quite gone. The comforts that flow into the soul when sin is pardoned, are like clear shining after clouds and rain. Let not Israel be discouraged; nothing is too hard for God: having made all, he can make what use he pleases of any. Those that learn to know Christ, see all knowledge to be foolishness, in comparison with the knowledge of him. And his enemies will find their counsels turned into foolishness, and themselves taken in their craftiness. The exact fulfilling the prophecies of Scripture confirms the truth of the whole, and proves its Divine origin. The particular favours God designed for his people in captivity, were foretold here, long before they went into captivity. Very great difficulties would be in the way of their deliverance; but it is promised that by Divine power they should all be removed. God knew who should be the Deliverer of his people; and let his church know it, that when they heard such a name talked of, they might know their redemption drew nigh. It is the greatest honour of the greatest men, to be employed as instruments of the Divine favour to his people. In things wherein men serve themselves, and look no further, God makes them do all his pleasure. And a nobler Shepherd than Cyrus does his Father's will, till his work is fully completed.That frustrateth - Hebrew, 'Breaking:' that is, destroying, rendering vain. The idea is, that that which necromancers and diviners relied on as certain demonstration that what they predicted would be fulfilled, God makes vain and inefficacious. The event which they predicted did not follow, and all their alleged proofs that they were endowed with divine or miraculous power he rendered vain.

The tokens - Hebrew, אתות 'othôth - 'Signs.' This word is usually applied to miracles, or to signs of the divine interposition and presence. Here it means the things on which diviners and soothsayers relied; the tricks of cunning and sleight-of-hand which they adduced as miracles, or as demonstrations that they were under a divine influence. See the word more fully explained in the notes at Isaiah 7:2.

The liars - Deceivers, boasters - meaning conjurers, or false prophets (compare Jeremiah 50:36; see also the note at Isaiah 16:6).

And maketh diviners mad - That is, makes them foolish, or deprives them of wisdom. They pretend to foretell future events, but the event does not correspond with the prediction. God orders it otherwise, and thus they are shown to be foolish, or unwise.

That turneth wise men backward - Lowth renders this, 'Who reverseth the devices of the sages.' The sense is, he puts them to shame. The idea seems to be derived from the fact that when one is ashamed, or disappointed, or fails of performing what he promised, he turns away his face (see 1 Kings 2:16, margin) The 'wise men,' here denote the sages; the diviners, the soothsayers; and the sense is, that they were not able to predict future events, and that when their prediction failed, they would be suffused with shame.

And maketh their knowledge foolish - He makes them appear to be fools. It is well known that soothsayers and diviners abounded in the East; and it is not improbable that the prophet here means that when Babylon was attacked by Cyrus, the diviners and soothsayers would predict his defeat, and the overthrow of his army, but that the result would show that they were utterly incapable of predicting a future event. The whole passage here has reference to the taking of Babylon by Cyrus, and should be interpreted accordingly.

25. tokens—prognostics; the pretended miracles which they gave as proofs of their supernatural powers.

liars—(Jer 50:36). Conjurers; or, astrologers; men leading a retired contemplative life in order to study divination by the signs of the stars [Vitringa].

backward—with shame at their predictions not being verified. "To turn away the face" is to frustrate defeat (Isa 36:9; 1Ki 2:15). The "wise men" are the diviners who, when Babylon was attacked by Cyrus, predicted his overthrow.

That frustrateth the tokens of the liars; of the magicians, and astrologers, and sorcerers, who were numerous, and greatly employed and esteemed in Babylon, Isaiah 47:12,13 Da 2:2,48, and who had foretold the long continuance and prosperity of the Chaldean empire. But, saith God, I will confute their tokens or predictions, and prove them to be liars.

And maketh diviners mad with grief for the disappointment of their hopes and predictions, and their disgrace and loss which followed it.

That turneth wise men backward; stopping their way, thwarting and blasting their designs, so as they can proceed no further, but are forced to retreat and take new counsels, and giving them up to such counsels and courses as are foolish and pernicious to themselves. That frustrateth the tokens of the liars,.... Struck dumb the oracles of the Heathens, disappointed their lying priests, and made void all the signs and tokens they gave the people, that such and such things would come to pass, which did not, and which proved them to be liars:

and maketh diviners mad; soothsayers, astrologers, and such sort of persons, who pretended to foretell future events; but these not answering to their predictions, they became mad, because their credit was ruined, and they lost their reward:

that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolishness; the wise philosophers among the Gentiles, and their schemes of philosophy, which were confounded and destroyed, and proved foolish, through the ministration of the Gospel, 1 Corinthians 1:20.

That frustrateth the {c} tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish;

(c) He arms them against the soothsayers of Babylon, who would have said that they knew by the stars that God would not deliver Israel, and that Babylon would stand.

25, 26. The overthrow of heathen soothsaying and the establishment of true prophecy as it existed in Israel.

the tokens of the liars] Or, the signs of the praters (cf. Jeremiah 50:36, and See on ch. Isaiah 16:6 where the word means “pratings”). The “signs” (see Deuteronomy 13:1 f.) referred to are the omens on which the diviners based their forecasts of the future. How much reliance was placed on these prognostications by the Babylonians will be seen from ch. 47.

diviners] See on ch. Isaiah 3:2.Verse 25. - That frustrateth the tokens of the liars; i.e. "who brings to nought the prognostications of the astrologers and soothsayers, that pretend falsely to a knowledge of future events" (see Isaiah 49:13; and comp. Jeremiah 29:8, 9); and maketh diviners mad; i.e. "shows them to be thole or madmen" (see Job 12:17). That turneth wise men backward; i.e. "repulses them - puts them to flight." Pretenders to wisdom, rather than truly wise men, are meant. So irrational is idolatry; but yet, through self-hardening, they have fallen under the judgment of hardness of heart (Isaiah 6:9-10; Isaiah 19:3; Isaiah 29:10), and have been given up to a reprobate mind (Romans 1:28). "They perceive not, and do not understand: for their eyes are smeared over, so that they do not see; their hearts, so that they do not understand. And men take it not to heart, no perception and no understanding, that men should say, The half of it I have burned in the fire, and also baked bread upon the coals thereof; roasted flesh, and eaten: and ought I to make the rest of it an abomination, to fall down before the produce of a tree?" Instead of טח, Leviticus 14:42, the third person is written טח (from tâchach, Ges. 72, Anm. 8) in a circumstantial sense: their eyes are, as it were, smeared over with plaster. The expression אל־לב השׁיב or על־לב (Isaiah 46:8), literally to carry back into the heart, which we find as well as על־לב שׂים, to take to heart (Isaiah 42:25), answers exactly to the idea of reflection, here with reference to the immense contrast between a piece of wood and the Divine Being. The second and third לא in Isaiah 44:19 introduce substantive clauses, just as verbal clauses are introduced by ואין. לאמר is used in the same manner as in Isaiah 9:8 : "perception and insight showing themselves in their saying." On būl, see Job 40:20; the meaning "block" cannot be established: the talmudic būl, a lump or piece, which Ewald adduces, is the Greek βῶλος.
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