Isaiah 65:16
That he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes.
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(16) Shall bless himself in the God of truth . . .—Literally, the God of the Amen. In Revelation 3:14 we have an echo of the Hebrew; in John 17:3 we have as distinct an echo of the LXX. rendering, τὸν θεὸν τὸν ἀληθινόν. The words seem to imply that the prophet had entered into the inner meaning of what was to most men only a liturgical formula.

Because the former troubles . . .—The addition of the clause emphasises the thought that it is the truth or faithfulness of God, who keepeth His promise for over, that will lead men to use that new Name as a formula of benediction.



Isaiah 65:16

The full beauty and significance of these remarkable words are only reached when we attend to the literal rendering of a part of them which is obscured in our version. As they stand in the original they have, in both cases, instead of the vague expression, ‘The God of truth,’ the singularly picturesque one, ‘The God of the Amen.’

I. Note the meaning of the name. Now, Amen is an adjective, which means literally firm, true, reliable, or the like. And, as we know, its liturgical use is that, in the olden time, and to some extent in the present time, it was the habit of the listening people to utter it at the close of prayer or praise. But besides this use at the end of some one else’s statement, which the sayer of the ‘Amen’ confirms by its utterance, we also find it used at the beginning of a statement, by the speaker, in order to confirm his own utterance by it.

And these two uses of the expression reposing on its plain meaning, in the first instance signifying, ‘I tell you that it is so’; and in the second instance signifying, ‘So may it be!’ or, ‘So we believe it is,’ underlie this grand title which God takes to Himself here, ‘the God of the Amen,’ both His Amen and ours. So that the thought opens up very beautifully and simply into these two, His truth and our faith.

First, it emphasises the absolute truthfulness of every word that comes from His lips. There is implied in the title that He really has spoken, and declared to man something of His will, something of His nature, something of His purposes, something of our destiny. And now He puts, as it were, the broad seal upon the charter and says, ‘Amen! Verily it is so, and My word of Revelation is no man’s imagination, and My word of command is the absolute unveiling of human duty and human perfectness, and My word of promise is that upon which a man may rest all his weight and be safe for ever.’ God’s word is ‘Amen!’ man’s word is ‘perhaps.’ For in regard to the foundation truths of man’s belief and experience and need, no human tongue can venture to utter its own asseverations with nothing behind them but itself, and expect men to accept them; but that is exactly what God does, and alone has the right to do. His word absolutely, and through and through, in every fibre of it, is reliable and true.

Now do not forget that there was one who came to us and said, ‘Amen! Amen! I say unto you.’ Jesus Christ, in all His deep and wonderful utterances, arrogated to Himself the right which God here declares to be exclusively His, and He said, ‘I too have, and I too exercise, the right and the authority to lay My utterances down before you, and expect you to take them because of nothing else than because I say them.’ God is the God of the Amen! The last book of Scripture, when it draws back the curtain from the mysteries of the glorified session of Jesus Christ at the right hand of God, makes Him say to us, ‘These things saith the Amen!’ And if you want to know what that means, its explanation follows in the next clause, ‘the faithful and true witness.’

But then, on the other hand, necessarily involved in this title, though capable of being separately considered, is not only the absolute truthfulness of the divine word, but also the thorough-going reliance, on our parts, which that word expects and demands. God’s ‘Amen,’ and ‘Verily,’ of confirmation, should ever cause the ‘Amen’ of acceptance and assent to leap from our lips. If He begins with that mighty word, so soon as the solemn voice has ceased its echo should rise from our hearts. The city that cares for the charter which its King has given it will prepare a fitting, golden receptacle in which to treasure it. And the men who believe that God in very deed has spoken laws that illuminate, and commandments that guide, and promises that calm and strengthen and fulfil themselves, will surely prepare in their hearts an appropriate receptacle for those precious and infallible words. God’s truth has corresponding to it our trust. God’s faithfulness demands, and is only adequately met by, our faith. If He gives us the sure foundation to build upon, it will be a shame for us to bring wood, hay, stubble, and build these upon the Rock of Ages. The building should correspond with its foundation, and the faith which grasps the sure word should have in it something of the unchangeableness and certainty and absoluteness of that word which it grasps. If His revelation of Himself is certain, you and I ought to be certain of His revelation of Himself. Our certitude should correspond to its certainty.

Ah! my friend, what a miserable contrast there is between the firm, unshaken, solid security of the divine word upon which we say that we trust, and the poor, feeble, broken trust which we build upon it. ‘Let not that man think that He shall receive anything of the Lord’; but let us expect, as well as ‘ask, in faith, nothing wavering’; and let our ‘Amen!’ ring out in answer to God’s.

The Apostle Paul has a striking echo of the words of my text in the second Epistle to the Corinthians: ‘All the promises of God in Him are yea! and through Him also is the Amen!’ The assent, full, swift, frank -the assent of the believing heart to the great word of God comes through the same channel, and reaches God by the same way, as God’s word on which it builds comes to us. The ‘God of the Amen,’ in both senses of the word, is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the seal as well as the substance of the divine promises, and whose voice in us is the answer to, and the grasp of, the promises of which He is the substance and soul.

II. Now notice, next, how this God of the Amen is, by reason of that very characteristic, the source of all blessing.

‘He who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of Truth.’ That phrase of blessing oneself in, which is a frequent Old Testament expression, is roughly equivalent to invoking, and therefore receiving, blessing from. You find it, for instance, in the seventy-second Psalm, in that grand burst which closes one of the books of the Psalter and hails the coming of the Messianic times, of which my text also is a prediction. ‘Men shall be blessed in Him,’ or rather, ‘shall bless themselves in Him,’ which is a declaration, that all needful benediction shall come down upon humanity through the coming Messias, as well as that men shall recognise in that Messias the source of all their blessing and good. So the text declares that, in those days that are yet to come, the whole earth shall be filled with men whose eyes have been purged from ignorance and sin, and from the illusions of sense and the fascinations of folly, and who have learned that only in the God of the Amen is the blessing of their life to be found.

Of course it is so. For only on Him can I lean all my weight and be sure that the stay will not give. All other bridges across the great abysses which we have to traverse or be lost in them, are like those snow-cornices upon some Alp, which may break when the climber is on the very middle of them, and let him down into blackness out of which he will never struggle. There is only one path clear across the deepest gulf, which we poor pilgrims can tread with absolute safety that it will never yield beneath our feet. My brother! there is one support that is safe, and one stay upon which a man can lean his whole weight and be sure that the staff will never either break or pierce his palm, and that is the faithful God, in whose realm are no disappointments, amongst whose trusters are no heart-broken and deceived men, but who gives bountifully, and over and above all that we are able to ask or think. They who have made experience, as we have all made experience, of the insufficiency of earthly utterances, of the doubtfulness of the clearest words of men, of the possible incapacity of the most loving, to be what they pledge themselves to be, and of the certainty that even if they are so for a while they cannot be so always-have surely learned one half, at least, of the lesson that life is meant to teach us; and it is our own fault if we have not bettered it with the better half, having uncoiled the tendrils of our hearts from the rotten props round which they have been too apt to twine themselves, and wreathed them about the pillars of the eternal throne, which can never shake nor fail. ‘He that blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself’-unless he is a fool-’in the God of the Amen!’ and not in the man of the ‘peradventure.’

III. Lastly, note how the God of the Amen should be the pattern of His servants.

‘He that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth,’ or, ‘of the Amen.’ The prophet deduces from the name the solemn thought that those who truly feel its significance will shape their words accordingly, and act and speak so that they shall not fear to call His pure eyes to witness that there are neither, hypocrisy, nor insincerity, nor vacillation, nor the ‘hidden things of dishonesty’ nor any of the skulking meannesses of craft and self-seeking in them. ‘I swear by the God of the Amen, and call Thy faithfulness to witness that I am trying to be like Thee,’ that is what we ought to do if we call ourselves Christians. If we have any hold at all of Him, and of His love, and of the greatness and majesty of His faithfulness, we shall try to make our poor little lives, in such measure as the dewdrops may be like the sun, radiant like His, and of the same shape as His, for the dewdrop and the sun are both of them spheres. That is exactly what the apostle does, in that same chapter in 2 Cor., to which I already referred. He takes these very thoughts of my text, and in their double aspect too, and says, ‘Just because God is faithful, do you Corinthians think that, when I told you that I was coming to see you, I did not mean it?’ He brings the greatest thought that He can find about God and God’s truth, down to the settlement of this very little matter, the vindication of Himself from the charge, on the one hand, of facile and inconsiderate vacillation, and, on the other hand, of insincerity. So, we may say, the greatest thoughts should regulate the smallest acts. Though our maps be but a quarter of an inch to a hundred miles, let us see that they are drawn to scale. Let us see that He is our Pattern; and that the truthfulness, the simplicity, and faithfulness, which we rest upon as the very foundation of our intellectual as well as our moral and religious being, are, in our measure, copied in ourselves. ‘As God is faithful,’ said Paul, ‘our word to you was not yea! and nay!’ And they who are trusting to the God of the Amen! will live in all simplicity and godly sincerity; their yea will be yea, and their nay, nay.

Isaiah 65:16. That he who blesseth himself in the earth — In any part of the world, for God shall have servants out of all nations, that shall be dignified with this new name; shall bless himself in the God of truth — That is, in his name; shall renounce every species of idolatry, and invoke and praise the true God alone. They shall have recourse to, and trust in, him alone, for blessing and happiness, and for a supply of all their wants. Observe, reader, it is of great consequence what that is which we bless ourselves in, and which we most please ourselves with. Worldly people bless themselves in the abundance which they have of this world’s goods, Psalm 49:18; Luke 12:19; but God’s servants bless themselves in him, as a God all- sufficient for them. And he that sweareth, &c. — By him also they shall swear, and not by any creature, or any false god. To his judgment they shall refer themselves, from whom every man’s judgment proceeds. Both in prayer and praise, and in every act of homage and worship, they shall give honour to him as the God of truth — Hebrew, Amen, which some understand of Christ, who is himself the Amen, the faithful and true witness, and in whom all the promises are yea and amen. In him we must bless ourselves, and by him we must swear unto the Lord, and covenant with him. Some read it, He that is blessed in the earth shall be blessed in the true God; for Christ is the true God and eternal life, 1 John 5:20. And it was promised of old, that in him should all families of the earth be blessed. Because the former troubles are forgotten — Namely, the troubles of the church. They shall see that what God hath promised he hath also fulfilled, and that he hath put an end to the troubles of his people, the remembrance of which shall be swallowed up in their present comforts. The chief reason of this is assigned in the next verse.

65:11-16 Here the different states of the godly and wicked, of the Jews who believed, and of those who persisted in unbelief, are set against one another. They prepared a table for that troop of deities which the heathen worship, and poured out drink-offerings to that countless number. Their worshippers spared no cost to honour them, which should shame the worshippers of the true God. See the malignity of sin; it is doing by choice what we know will displease God. In every age and nation, the Lord leaves those who persist in doing evil, and despise the call of the gospel. God's servants shall have the bread of life, and shall want nothing good for them. But those who forsake the Lord, shall be ashamed of vain confidence in their own righteousness, and the hopes they built thereon. Wordly people bless themselves in the abundance of this world's goods; but God's servants bless themselves in him. He is their strength and portion. They shall honour him as the God of truth. And it was promised that in him should all the families of the earth be blessed. They shall think themselves happy in having him for their God, who made them forget their troubles.That he who blesseth himself in the earth - That is, he who shall invoke blessings on himself.

Shall bless himself in the God of truth - Or by the true God. He shall not seek a blessing from a false god; but he shall come before the true God, and seek a blessing at his hand.

And he that sweareth - Every oath that is taken in the land shall be by the true God. There shall be no swearing by idols; but the true God shall be everywhere acknowledged.

Because the former troubles are forgotten - The former punishments and calamities shall be passed away. The favor of God shall be restored. His pure worship shall be re-established, and his name shall be celebrated again in the land. The image here is one of returning prosperity and favor; a state when the happiness will be so great that all the former trials will be regarded as not worthy of recollection.

16. That he—rather, "he who," &c.

blesseth, &c.—(Ps 72:17; Jer 4:2).

God of truth—very God, as opposed to false gods; Hebrew, Amen: the very name of Messiah (2Co 1:20; Re 3:14), faithful to His promises (Joh 1:17; 6:32). Real, substantial, spiritual, eternal, as opposed to the shadowy types of the law.

sweareth, &c.—God alone shall be appealed to as God (Isa 19:18; De 6:13; Ps 63:11).

troubles—that is, sins, provocations [Lowth]. Rather, calamities caused by your sins; so far from these visiting you again, the very remembrance of them is "hid from Mine eyes" by the magnitude of the blessings I will confer on you (Isa 65:17, &c.). [Maurer].

I will bring it to pass, that over all the world, if any man bless himself, or bless another, it shall be in God Amen. So the Hebrew (we translate it the God of truth). Amen is a name given to Christ, Revelation 3:14, These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness; being here applied to God, many think it makes a great proof of the Godhead of Christ, and judge the sense of this text to be, that under the times of the gospel men should not bless themselves (as before) in the names of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, but in the name of Christ, in the God Amen; nor is this an improbable sense. Others taking it more appellatively, by Elohim Amen, here understand that God who shows himself true and faithful in his promises. In like manner it is prophesied, that those that swear (by which some understand worship God, others, calling God to be a witness) should swear by the

God of truth, or in the God of truth; either worshipping God in Christ the Amen, or calling the faithful God to attest their sincerity, or swearing by that God who hath approved his truth and faithfulness by saving and delivering his people.

Because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes; because they shall see what God promised is fulfilled, the troubles of his people are at an end, and they are hid from God’s eyes, that is, they are at an end.

That he who blesseth himself in the earth,.... That is sensible he stands in need of blessings, and wishes for them, and prays he might have them; or that takes notice that he is blessed with them, and acknowledges them, and is thankful for them:

shall bless himself in the God of truth; shall pray to him for blessings he wants, and ascribe what he has unto him, and give him the praise and glory of them; by whom is meant, either God the Father, in opposition to idols, the fictitious deities of the Gentiles, those lying vanities, which were not gods by nature, and to whom the God of truth, or the true God, is often opposed, and whom the Targum here calls the living God; or rather the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ: for the words may be rendered, "shall bless himself in God Amen" (f); that is, in God, who is the "Amen", which is one of the names of Christ, Revelation 3:14 in whom believers are blessed with all spiritual blessings, and reckon themselves blessed in him, and ascribe blessing to him for them; in whom all the promises of God are yea and amen, and who is the true God, and eternal life, 2 Corinthians 1:20,

and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; when an oath is necessary on any account, and it is proper to appeal to the supreme Being for the truth of anything, this, in Gospel times, should be done in the name of Christ; he, who is the Amen and faithful witness, is to be appealed unto, who is God omniscient, the discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Of forms of swearing by Christ, see Romans 9:1. Besides, swearing, as it is a part of religious worship, may here be put for the whole; so it signifies, that as all blessings come from Christ, so all worship and duty should be performed unto him, and in his name.

Because the former troubles are forgotten, they are hid from mine eyes; which is to be understood not of afflictions and persecutions for the sake of Christ and his Gospel, for these, especially in the first times of it, were very great; though in the latter day they will cease, to which indeed this prophecy extends: but rather either of the idolatry and superstition of the Gentile world, which were troublesome and offensive to God, but now removed by the clear light of the Gospel, and so forgotten by him, and hid from his eyes; or the carnal ordinances of the legal dispensation, which gave great trouble to the worshippers then, and could not cleanse their consciences, and through the fear of death, on the breach of them, were all their lifetime subject to bondage; but now these are all done away by Christ, and in Gospel times forgotten by men, and hid from the sight of God, who regards them no more; see Jeremiah 3:16, which sense suits with what follows.

(f) "benedicet sibi in Deo Amen", Pagninus, Montanus, Vitringa; "benedicturus sit in Deo Amen", Cocceius.

That he who blesseth himself in the {u} earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; because the former {x} troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from my eyes.

(u) By blessing, and by swearing is meant the praising of God for his benefits, and the true worshipping of him, who will not be only in Judea, but through all the world.

(x) I will no longer permit my Church to be desolate as in times past.

16. That] R.V., So that (as Genesis 11:7; Psalm 95:11; Malachi 4:1, &c.).

he who blesseth himself in the land] i.e. “who invokes a blessing on himself”; cf. Genesis 22:18; Genesis 26:4; Genesis 48:20; Jeremiah 4:2.

shall bless himself by the God of truth] using such expressions as, “May the God of truth bless me.” By the fulfilment both of His threatenings and His promises Jehovah will have shewn Himself to be the God of truth, so that a blessing uttered in His name is certainly effective. God of truth is strictly “God of the Amen” (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:20; Revelation 3:14), but this is a too artificial phrase for so early a period. Read ’ômen (= “truth,” “fidelity”).

swear by the God of truth] Cf. ch. Isaiah 48:1.

the former troubles are forgotten] See Revelation 21:4. hid from

mine eyes] a reminiscence probably of Hosea 13:14.

Verse 16. - That he who blesseth himself; rather, so that he who blesses himself. The sequence of the argument is not altogether clear. Perhaps it is recant that God will call them by his own Name (Amos 9:12) - "the people of God" (Hebrews 4:9); and thence it will become natural for them to use no other name, either when they call for a blessing on themselves, or have to confirm a covenant with others. In the God of truth; literally, in the God of the Amen; i.e. the God who keeps covenant and promise, to which the strongest formula of consent was the word "Amen" (see Numbers 5:22; Deuteronomy 27:15-26; 1 Kings 1:36, etc.). Similarly, St. John calls our Lord "the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness" (Revelation 3:14). Because the former troubles are forgotten. When the blessed time has come wherein men call themselves by the Name of the Lord, and know of only one God as the Source of blessing and the confirmation of an oath, then the former state of human affairs, with all its "troubles," will have passed away, and the new era will be inaugurated, which the prophet proceeds to describe at length (vers. 17-25). Isaiah 65:16On the ground of the sin thus referred to again, the proclamation of punishment is renewed, and the different fates awaiting the servants of Jehovah and those by whom He is despised are here announced in five distinct theses and antitheses. "Therefore thus saith the Lord, Jehovah: Behold my servants will eat, but ye will hunger; behold my servants will drink, but ye will thirst; behold my servants will rejoice, but ye will be put to shame; behold my servants will exult for delight of heart, but ye will cry for anguish of heart, and ye will lament for brokenness of spirit. And ye will leave your name for a curse to my chosen ones, and the Lord, Jehovah, will slay thee; but His servants He will call by another name, to that whoever blesseth himself in the land will bless himself by the God of truthfulness, and whoever sweareth in the land will swear by the God of truthfulness, because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they have vanished from mine eyes." The name Adonai is connected with the name Jehovah for the purpose of affirming that the God of salvation and judgment has the power to carry His promises and threats into execution. Starving, confounded by the salvation they had rejected (תּבשׁוּ as in Isaiah 66:5), crying and wailing (תּילילוּ, fut. hiph. as in Isaiah 15:2, with a double preformative; Ges. 70, 2 Anm.) for sorrow of heart and crushing of spirit (shebher, rendered very well by the lxx συντριβή, as in Isaiah 61:1, συντετριμμένους ), the rebellious ones are left behind in the land of captivity, whilst the servants of Jehovah enjoy the richest blessings from God in the land of promise (Isaiah 62:8-9). The former, perishing in the land of captivity, leave their name to the latter as shebhū‛âh, i.e., to serve as a formula by which to swear, or rather to execrate or curse (Numbers 5:21), so that men will say, "Jehovah slay thee, as He slew them." This, at any rate, is the meaning of the threat; but the words וגו והמיתך cannot contain the actual formula, not even if we drop the Vav, as Knobel proposes, and change לבחירי into לבחיריו; for, in the first place, although in the doxologies a Hebrew was in the habit of saying "berūkh shemō" (bless his name) instead of yehı̄ shemō bârukh (his name be blessed), he never went so far as the Arab with his Allâh tabâr, but said rather יתברך. Still less could he make use of the perfect (indicative) in such sentences as "may he slay thee," instead of the future (voluntative) ימיתך, unless the perfect shared the optative force of the previous future by virtue of the consecutio temporum. And secondly, the indispensable כּהם or כּאלּה would be wanting (see Jeremiah 29:22, cf., Genesis 48:20). We may therefore assume, that the prophet has before his mind the words of this imprecatory formula, though he does not really express them, and that he deduces from it the continuation of the threat. And this explains his passing from the plural to the singular. Their name will become an execration; but Jehovah will call His servants by another name (cf., Isaiah 62:2), so that henceforth it will be the God of the faithfully fulfilled promise whose name men take into their mouth when they either desire a blessing or wish to give assurance of the truth (hithbâr be, to bless one's self with any one, or with the name of any one; Ewald, 133, Anm. 1). No other name of any god is now heard in the land, except this gloriously attested name; for the former troubles, which included the mixed condition of Israel in exile and the persecution of the worshippers of Jehovah by the despisers of Jehovah, are now forgotten, so that they no longer disturb the enjoyment of the present, and are eve hidden from the eyes of God, so that all thought of ever renewing them is utterly remote from His mind. This is the connection between Isaiah 65:16 and Isaiah 65:13-15. אשׁר does not mean eo quod here, as in Genesis 31:49 for example, but ita ut, as in Genesis 13:16. What follows is the result of the separation accomplished and the promise fulfilled. For the same reason God is called Elohē'âmēn, "the God of Amen," i.e., the God who turns what He promises into Yea and Amen (2 Corinthians 1:20). The epithet derived from the confirmatory Amen, which is thus applied to Jehovah, is similar to the expression in Revelation 3:14, where Jesus is called "the Amen, the faithful and true witness." The explanatory kı̄ (for) is emphatically repeated in וכי, as in Genesis 33:11 and 1 Samuel 19:4 (compare Job 38:20). The inhabitants of the land stand in a close and undisturbed relation to the God who has proved Himself to be true to His promises; for all the former evils that followed from the sin have entirely passed away.
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