Matthew Poole's Commentary
The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.A prophecy of Christ’s kingdom, and the calling of the Gentiles, Isaiah 2:1-5; and rejection of the Jews for their idolatry and pride, Isaiah 2:6-9. The great majesty and power of God; and his terrors on the wicked; with an exhortation to fear God, and not to trust in man, Isaiah 2:10-22.
The word; or, the matter or thing, as this Hebrew word commonly signifies; the prophecy or vision.
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.And; or, now, as this particle is rendered, 1 Samuel 9:1 Ezra 1:1, &c.
In the last days; in the times of the Messias or the gospel, as the generality both of Jewish and Christian writers understand it, and as may further appear both from the use of this phrase in this sense, Jeremiah 48:47 49:39 Ezekiel 38:8,16 Da 10:14 Hosea 3:5 Acts 2:17 Hebrews 1:2 1Jo 2:18, and from the conversion of the Gentiles here promised, which was not to be till that time; and from the nature of the thing, for this really was the last time and state of the church in the world; the Jewish pedagogy was to be abolished, but Christ’s institutions were to continue to the end of the world.
The mountain of the Lord’s house; the temple of the Lord which is upon Mount Moriah; which yet is not to be understood literally of that material temple, but mystically of the church of God, as appears from the next following words, which will not admit of a literal interpretation; and from the flowing of all nations to it, which was not to that temple, nor indeed was fulfilled till that temple was destroyed; and from the frequent use of this metaphor, the temple, or the house of the Lord, concerning the Christian church, both in the Old and the New Testament. Shall be exalted above the hills; shall be placed and settled in a most conspicuous and glorious manner, being advanced above all other churches and kingdoms in the world. All nations, those Gentiles, whom you now despise, and judge to be abhorred and quite forsaken by God, shall flow unto it, shall come in great abundance, and with great eagerness, like a river, as the word signifies.
And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.Shall go; shall not only have some weak desires of going, but shall be ready to take pains, and shall actually go. And say; such shall be their zeal, that they shall not only go themselves, but shall persuade and press others to go with them.
We will walk in his paths; they show the truth of their conversion by their hearty desire to be structed in the way or method of worshipping and serving God acceptably, and by their firm purpose of practising the instructions given to them. For: this last clause contains the reason why the people should be so forward to go, and to invite others to go with them; and they may be the words either of the people, continuing their speech; or of the prophet, now returning to speak in his own name.
The law; the new law, the doctrine of the gospel, which is frequently called a law, because it hath the nature and power of a law, obliging us no less to the belief and practice of it than the old law did.
The word of the Lord from Jerusalem: for the accomplishment of this promise, see Luke 24:47 Acts 1:8 Romans 10:18.
And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.He shall judge among the nations; Christ shall set up and use his authority among and over all nations, not only giving laws to them, as other rulers do, but doing that which no other powers can do, Convincing their minds and consciences, conquering and changing their hearts, and ordering their lives.
Shall rebuke; either verbally, by his word and Spirit reproving or convincing the world of sin; or really, by his judgments upon his implacable enemies, which obstruct the propagation of the gospel. Neither shall they learn war any more; he shall root out those great animosities and hostilities which were between the Jews and Gentiles, Ephesians 2:13, &c., and between several nations, subduing men’s pride, and passions, and lusts, which are the causes of all wars and contentions; and working humility, and meekness, and self-denial, and true and fervent love to all men, from whence peace necessarily follows. This was the design of the gospel in all, and the effect of it in those that rightly received it. And that war and dissension which was occasioned by the preaching of the gospel, as was foretold, Matthew 10:21,22, it was wholly accidental, by reason of men’s corrupt interests and lusts, which the gospel opposed; and it was not amongst those who received the gospel in the love of it, but between them and those who were either open enemies or false friends to them and to the gospel. But if this place be understood of an external and general peace which was to be in the world in the days of the Messias, this also may in due time be verified, when all Israel shall be saved, and the fulness of the Gentiles shall be brought in, and both Jews and Gentiles shall be united together into one fold, under Christ their great Shepherd; all which is prophesied and promised, John 10:16 Ro 11, and elsewhere. For it is not necessary that all the prophecies concerning the kingdom of the Messias should be accomplished in an instant, or at the beginning of it; but it is sufficient if they be fulfilled before the end of it. And some of them do manifestly belong to the last days of that kingdom. And therefore there is no truth nor weight in that argument which the Jews bring from this place against our Messias, because of those wars that have hitherto been and still are amongst Christians; for this doth not prove that these wars shall never cease, or that there shall not be such a peace in the world as they understand before the end of Christ’s kingdom.
O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.Come ye; seeing the Gentiles are thus ready and resolved to go to the Lord’s house, let this oblige and provoke you, O ye Israelites, to go with them, or before them. Whereby he secretly intimates their backwardness, and that when the Gentiles did come into the church, they would apostatize from it. Let us walk in the light of the Lord; take heed that you do not reject that light which is so clear that even the blind Gentiles will discern it.
Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers.Therefore; for the following reasons. Or, but, as this particle is oft used. But why do I persuade the Israelites to receive the light of the gospel? my labour is in vain. I foresee they will refuse it; and God, for their many and great sins, will give them up to apostacy and infidelity.
Thou hast forsaken; wilt certainly forsake and reject. The body of that nation.
They be replenished from the east; their land is full of the impious, and superstitious, and idolatrous manners of the Eastern nations, the Syrians and Chaldeans.
Are soothsayers: these undertook to discover secret things, and to foretell future contingent things, by the superstitious observation of the stars, or clouds, or birds, or other ways of divination, which God had severely forbidden. See Leviticus 19:26. Like the Philistines, who are infamous for those practices; of which see one instance 1 Samuel 6:2. They please themselves; they delight in their manners, and company, and conversation, making leagues, and friendships, and marriages with them.
In the children of strangers; either,
1. In the children begotten by them upon strange women; or rather,
2. In strangers, as this phrase is used, Nehemiah 9:2 Isaiah 60:10, and elsewhere.
Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots:Neither is there any end of their treasures; they have heaped up riches immoderately, (which was forbidden even to their king, Deu 17:17) and by wicked practices; they are never satisfied, but still greedily pursuing after more and more wealth, making this their chief business and joy. Their land also is full of horses; which even their king was forbidden to multiply, Deu 17:16, much more his subjects.
Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made:They give that worship to their own creatures which they deny to me their Creator, than which nothing can be more impious and absurd.
And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself: therefore forgive them not.The mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself; men of all ranks fall down and worship idols.
Forgive them not; cut off these incorrigible idolaters. Such an imprecation is not strange, considering the heinousness and inexcusableness of the crime, the singular condition of the prophets, who spake such things not from any disorderly passion, but by Divine inspiration, and from a fervent zeal for God’s glory, which ever was and ought to be dearer to them than all the interests of men, and from a pious care and fear lest others should be infected by their counsel or example. Yet the words may be taken as a prediction, Thou wilt not forgive them; by this I know thou hast determined utterly to destroy them; for the Hebrew particle al is sometimes taken only for a simple denial, as Psalm 121:3 Proverbs 12:28.
Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty.Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust: this is spoken ironically, and with derision. The sense is, Such dreadful calamities are coming upon you, that you will be ready to hide yourselves in rocks and caves of the earth, but all to no purpose.
For fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty; for fear of the glorious and terrible judgments of God.
The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.Shall be bowed down judicially, as they bowed down voluntarily before their idols. So the punishment is very suitable to the sin.
Shall be exalted in that day; his justice and power shall be magnified, and the vanity and impotency of all other gods shall be detected.
For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low:The day of the Lord; the time of God’s taking vengeance upon sinners, which is called God’s day, Isaiah 13:6,9 Eze 13:5 30:3, and oft elsewhere.
And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan,Either,
1. Metaphorically, upon the highest and proudest sinners; or,
2. Literally, as may seem probable from the following verses, where there is distinct mention made of mountains and hills, Isaiah 2:14, of towers and walls, Isaiah 2:15, of ships and pictures, Isaiah 2:16. Whereby he intimates that the judgment should be so universal and terrible, that it should not only reach to men, but to things also, whether natural or artificial, in all which there should be manifest tokens of God’s displeasure against the land. The cedars and oaks standing in the mountains shall be either thrown down by furious winds or earthquakes, or torn in pieces by thunder and lightning, and the stately houses built with cedars and oaks shall be destroyed.
And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up,To which men used to betake themselves in times of war and danger. It is usual with the prophets to describe God’s judgments upon men by the shaking and smoking of the mountains, the trembling of the earth, and the like.
And upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall,To which you resorted and trusted for your defence.
And upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures.The ships of Tarshish; the ships of the sea, as that word is used, Psalm 48:7, whereby you fetched riches and precious things from the remote parts of the world.
And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.This he repeats again, partly to assure us of the certainty of it, and partly to fix it deeper in men’s minds, because they are very backward to believe and consider things of this nature.
And the idols he shall utterly abolish.God will discover the impotency of idols to succour their worshippers, and thereby destroy their worship in the world.
And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.They, the idolatrous Israelites,
shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth; their usual places of retreat in cases of danger; of which see Joshua 10:16 Judges 6:2 1 Samuel 13:6.
To shake terribly the earth; either properly, or rather figuratively, to send dreadful judgments upon the inhabitants of the land.
In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats;Into the meanest and darkest places, in which moles and bats have their abode; whereas before they set them up in high and honourable places, where they might be seen and worshipped. This great and sudden change proceeded either from true repentance, which filled them with shame, and grief, and indignation against themselves, and all the instruments of their wickedness; or from a conviction of the vanity of their idols, which afforded them no help in the time of their need; or from a just fear lest God’s judgment should have fallen more heavily upon them, if it had found them in the practice of idolatry; and that by this profession of repentance they might, if it were possible, either prevent or mitigate their calamity.
To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.No text from Poole on this verse.
Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?Seeing God will undoubtedly bring down the highest and proudest of the sons of men into so much contempt and misery, from henceforth never admire nor place your trust in man, whose breath, upon which his life and strength depends, is in his nostrils, and therefore is quickly stopped and taken away.
Wherein is he to be accounted of? what one real and valuable excellency is there in him, to wit, considered in himself, and without dependence upon God?