Come near, you nations, to hear; and listen, you people: let the earth hear, and all that is therein…
Let the earth hear. This chapter, with the following one, constitutes a distinct prophecy, and forms the completion of the first part of Isaiah's work. This chapter further illustrates the point which has been again and again enforced, that "no man liveth unto himself;" a man's successes, achievements, failures, losses, troubles, are all for the sake of others. Every man's life is really vicarious, and this truth is pictured for us in the history and relations of nations. It is plain that no nation liveth unto itself; it is inspiration or warning to other nations around. A man's experience, and a nation's experience, can only to a very limited extent help the man or the nation; but it can most materially help other men and other nations. Therefore "let the earth hear" what God will do unto Edom. For Edom is principally referred to here, as the peculiarly inveterate and malignant enemy of ancient Israel. As we know that Edom submitted to Assyria, it is quite possible that they played a part in Sennacherib's invasion of Judah, in his attack on Jerusalem; so the prophet foresees Divine judgments falling on Edom as soon as Sennacherib is removed. The historical relations of Edom and Israel should be carefully studied. It is thought that from the historical reference to one nation the prophetic vision advances to the end of the world and the final judgment. We may keep to the lessons which arise out of the purely historical association. Dealing with one or with a few, for the sake of the many, has been God's universal law of relationship with men. It is the law of elections, or rather selections, the calling out of specially fitted ones to be workers for, or examples to, all. We readily recognize this law, as the responsibility of talents, positions, or opportunities; but it is less usual to see that it equally applies to disabilities, failures, and judgments. Men work for others, and men suffer for others. Nations gain power for the sake of others; nations are crushed and humbled for the sake of others. Illustration of this point may run along three lines.
I. A MAN'S OR A NATION'S GENIUS IS NOT FOR SELF. "The earth must hear," and know about it. All gifts are trusts.
II. A MAN'S OR A NATION'S SUFFERINGS ARE NOT FOR SELF. The most striking illustration in a man is Job; in a nation, the people of Israel. All sufferers bear their part in the moral education, the redemption, of the race.
III. A MAN'S OR A NATION'S JUDGMENTS ARE NOT FOR SELF. We are not punished for our own sakes alone. Judgments follow us for the sake of the on-lookers. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Come near, ye nations, to hear; and hearken, ye people: let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of it.