Isaiah 49:11
And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted.
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(11) My mountains . . . my highways . . .—The pronoun asserts the universal lordship of Jehovah. The whole earth is His.



Isaiah 49:11

This grand prophecy is far too wide to be exhausted by the return of the exiles. There gleamed through it the wider redemption and the true return of the real captives. The previous promises all find their fulfilment in the experiences of the soul on its journey back to God. Here we have two characteristics of that journey.

I. The Path through the mountains.

My mountains.’ That is the claim that all the world is His; and also the revelation that He is the Lord of Providence. He makes our difficult and steep places. Submission comes with that thought, and even ‘for the strength of the hills we bless Thee.’ There are mountains which are not His but ours, artificial difficulties of our own creating.

1. Our way does lie over the mountains. There are difficulties. The Christian course is like a Roman road which never turned aside, but went straight up and on. So much the better. A keener air blows, bracing and health-giving, up there. Mosquitoes and malaria keep to the lower levels.

2. There is always a path over the mountains. Some way opens when we get close up, like a path through heather, which is not seen till reached. We walk by faith. We foolishly forebode and fancy that we cannot live if something happens, but there is no cul de sac in our paths if God’s mountain-way is our way, nor does the faint track ever die out if our faith is keen-sighted and docile.

II. The Pasture on the mountains-lit. ‘bare heights.’

Pastures in the East are down in bottoms, not, like ours, upon the hills. But this flock finds supplies on the barren hill-tops.

Sustenance in Sorrow and Loss.

1. Promise that whatever be our trials and losses we shall be taken care of. Not, perhaps, as we should have liked, nor as abundantly fed as down in the valleys, but still not left to starve. No carcases strewed on the bleakest bit of road as one sees dead camels by the side of the tracks in the desert.

2. Promise of sustenance of a higher kind even in sorrow. The Alpine flora is specially beautiful, though minute. The blessings of affliction; the more intimate knowledge of His love, submission of will. ‘Out of the eater came forth meat.’

‘Passing through the valley of weeping they make it a well’; the tears shed in times of rightly borne sorrow are gathered into a reservoir from which refreshment, patience, trust and strength may be drawn in later days.

But the perfect fulfilment of the promise lies beyond this life. ‘On the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be,’ and they who have found pasture on the barren heights of earthly sorrow shall ‘summer high in bliss upon the hills of God,’ and shall at once both lie ‘for ever in a good fold,’ and ‘follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth,’ and find fountains of living water bursting forth for ever on these fertile heights.49:7-12 The Father is the Lord, the Redeemer, and Holy One of Israel, as sending the Son to be the Redeemer. Man, whom he came to save, put contempt upon him. To this he submitted for our salvation. He is a pledge for all the blessings of the covenant; in him God was reconciling the world to himself. Pardoning mercy is a release from the curse of the law; renewing grace is a release from the dominion of sin: both are from Christ. He saith to those in darkness, Show yourselves. Not only see, but be seen, to the glory of God, and your own comforts. Though there are difficulties in the way to heaven, yet the grace of God will carry us over them, and make even the mountains a way. This denotes the free invitations and the encouraging promises of the gospel, and the outpouring of the Spirit.And I will make all my mountains a way - I will make all the mountains for a highway; or an even, level way. That is, he would remove all obstructions from their path. The image is taken from the return from Babylon to the land of Palestine, in which God so often promises to make the hills a plain, and the crooked places straight (see the notes at Isaiah 40:4).

And my highways shall be exalted - That is, the way shall be cast up (see Isaiah 57:14; Isaiah 62:10), as when a road is made over valleys and gulf (see the notes at Isaiah 40:4).

11. my—All things are God's.

mountains a way—I will remove all obstructions out of the way (Isa 40:4).

exalted—that is, cast up (Isa 57:14; 62:10); for instance, over valleys. Vitringa explains "mountains" as great kingdoms, Egypt, Syria, &c., subjected to Rome, to facilitate the spreading of the Gospel; "highways," the Christian doctrine wherein those who join the Church walk, and which, at the time of Constantine, was to be raised into prominence before all, and publicly protected (Isa 35:8, 9).

I will remove all hinderances, and prepare the way for them, by levelling high grounds, and raising low grounds; of which see on Isaiah 40:3,4. And I will make all my mountains a way,.... Or "for", or "into a way" (e); signifying that they should be dug through or levelled, and a way made through them, over them, or upon them, for his people to pass: very probably the allusion is to the mountains that lay between Babylon and Judea; and which the Lord calls his, because of his making and settling, and was therefore able to make them a way, or passable: though the words are not to be literally understood, but denote the removing of all impediments, obstructions, and difficulties, in the people's return from captivity; which was typical of redemption by Christ, which had its difficulties, which he only could get over; he came leaping over these hills and mountains, and they became a plain before him, the great Zerubbabel; such as the assumption of a sinless nature, to make atonement in for sin, which only could be produced in an uncommon and extraordinary way; the fulfilling of a broken law, satisfying divine justice, engaging with many enemies who were to be conquered, sin, Satan, the world, and death; bearing the wrath of God, and submitting to an accursed death: and so in the conversion of the Gentiles, which may here be referred to, and of any sinner, there are many mountains of difficulties in the way of it, which the Lord only can remove; great opposition is made by the men of the world to the preaching of the Gospel, the means of it to the work itself, by Satan, who is loathe to lose a subject of his kingdom; and by men themselves, whose carnal minds are enmity to God, and all that is good difficulties arise from the state of deadness, darkness, and hardness of heart men are in before conversion from the corruptions of their nature, and strong habits of sin; from the general depravity of all the powers and faculties of the soul; from the bad company they have got into; or from their own self-righteousness, they are loathe to part with: and when men are called, and a work of God is begun, there are many mountains appear in their way of coming to Christ; as their numerous and aggravated sins, and doubts about the willingness Christ to receive such sinners; but, when God works, nothing can let. Many are the obstructions the saints meet with in their passage, through this world, by reason of a body of sin, Satan's temptations, the world's persecutions, afflictions of various kinds, strait circumstances of life, losses, crosses, and disappointments; unbelief of itself is a mountain, and raises many others; but the Lord makes a way for his people through all; it may be some respect may be had to the spread of the Gospel in the world, and the introduction of latter day glory, and the difficulties in the way thereof, which the Lord has been removing, and will remove. Rome Pagan is one mountain which God has removed; and Rome Papal is another he will, move, with all the antichristian powers; and the Turkish empire is another:

and my highways shall be exalted; Christ is the great highway of all, and next his word and ordinances, which are ways of holiness and righteousness; these may be said to be "exalted", being conspicuous and visible; and, like causeways, or, highways cast up, that are above, and carry over the mire and dirt; so these carry over the mire and dirt of sin and corruption; and may be said to be so when made use of, approved, and valued: or the words may be rendered, "they shall be", or "let them be exalted on my highways" (f); that is, his people, being in the exercise of faith, and in the discharge of their duty; see Psalm 18:33 with these words compare Isaiah 40:3 perhaps this passage may be best explained by Revelation 16:12, where mention is made of the drying up of the river Euphrates, or of the destruction of the Ottoman empire, to make way for the conversion of the eastern nations, prophesied of, among others, in the following verse.

(e) "in viam", V. L. Piscator, Montanus, Cocceius; "ut siut pervii", Junius & Tremellius; "in viam planam", Vitringa. (f) "et in aggeribus meis emineant", Junius & Tremellius.

And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted.
11. The expression my mountains is difficult. An allusion to the mere fact of creation is not natural, and to understand it of the mountains of Palestine (as in ch. Isaiah 14:25) would limit the image to the last stage of the return journey. Possibly the text should be amended so as to read “mountains” simply. Cf. LXX. (πᾶν ὄρος).

my highways] See on ch. Isaiah 40:4.Verse 11. - I will make all my mountains a way. No obstacles shall prevent the return of the wanderers. Mountains shall he as roads, and as highways lifted up. The expression "and now" (ועתּה), which follows, evidently indicates a fresh turn in the official life of the person speaking here. At the same time, it is evident that it is the failure of his labours within his own people, which has forced out the lamentation in Isaiah 49:4. For his reason for addressing his summons in Isaiah 49:1 to the world of nations, is that Jehovah has not guaranteed to him, the undaunted one, success to his labours among his own people, but has assigned him a mission extending far beyond and reaching to all mankind. "And now, saith Jehovah, that formed me from the womb to be His servant, to bring back Jacob to Him, and that Israel may be gathered together to Him; and I am honoured in the eyes of Jehovah, and my God has become my strength. He saith, It is only a small thing that thou becomest my servant, to set up the tribes of Jacob, and to bring back the preserved of Israel. I have set thee for the light of the Gentiles, to become my salvation to the end of the earth." Both shōbhēbh and hâshı̄bh unite within themselves the meanings reducere (Jeremiah 50:19) and restituere. On לא equals לו generally, see at Isaiah 9:2; Isaiah 63:9. Jerome is wrong in his rendering, et Israel qui non congregabitur (what could a prophecy of the rejection of the Jews do here?); so also is Hitzig's rendering, "since Israel is not swept away;" and Hofmann's, "Israel, which is not swept away." In the present instance, where the restoration of Israel is the event referred to, אצף must signify "the gathering together of Israel," as in Isaiah 11:12. לו (parallel אליו) points to Jehovah as the author of the gathering, and as the object of it also. The transition from the infinitive of design to the finite verb of desire, is the same as in Isaiah 13:9; Isaiah 14:25. The attributive clause, added to the name Jehovah, expresses the lofty mission of the servant of God with regard to Israel. The parenthesis, "I have honour in the eyes of Jehovah, and my God has become my strength, i.e., has become mighty in me, the apparently weak one," looks beyond to the still loftier mission, by which the former lofty one is far surpassed. On account of this parenthetically inserted praise of Jehovah, the אמר is resumed in ויּאמר. Instead of נקל היותך (compare 1 Kings 16:31), i.e., it is a small thing that thou shouldst be, we have it here, as in Ezekiel 8:17, with a comparative min, which must not, however, be logically pressed: "It is smaller than that," i.e., it is too small a thing that thou shouldst be. The netsı̄rē (Keri, netsūrē) of Israel are those who have been preserved in exile (Ezekiel 6:12); in other cases, we find שׁאר, שׁארית, or פּלטה. Not only is the restoration of the remnant of Israel the work of the servant of Jehovah; but Jehovah has appointed him for something higher than this. He has given or set him for the light of the heathen ("a light to lighten the Gentiles," Luke 2:32), to become His salvation to the end of the earth (lxx: τοῦ εἶναι σε εἰς σωτηρίαν ἕως ἐσχάτου τῆς γῆς). Those who regard Israel as a nation as speaking here (e.g., Hitzig, Ewald, Umbreit, etc.) go right away from this, which is the most natural sense of the words, and explain them as meaning, "that my salvation may be, reach, or penetrate to the end of the earth." But inasmuch as the servant of Jehovah is the light of the world, he is through that very fact the salvation of the world; and he is both of these through Jehovah, whose counsels of ישׁוּעה are brought by him into historical realization and visible manifestation.
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