113-157 Isaiah Chapter 57
Evil Leaders Rebuked
Isaiah continues to rebuke the leaders of the Jewish people in this chapter. The Lord God is now speaking to the persecution of the righteous. In this case, it is the persecution by neglect. “The righteous perish and no one takes it to heart.” Some commentators have trouble with this passage of Isaiah as they claim that Isaiah was written after the Babylonian exile. But the words of Isaiah here happened before the Babylonian exile. This then is proof that Isaiah is the author and wrote the book of Isaiah. “There is no evidence of corresponding post-exilic practices. A prophet in the post-exile could not have written like this.” (Motyer) “All in all we prefer to think of the reign of Manasseh, for the abominations of this king are all found in this chapter.” (Bultema)
Even as the leaders of the Jewish people were persecuting the righteous they had the promise that God would not forsake them. When they perished these merciful men were taken away from the evil of this world and entered into peace.
These men of Judah made fun of the righteous and God heard them. Therefore, God is challenging them with the question, “Who did they think they were?” Who is it that they are mocking? They the children of transgression and the offspring of falsehood. This is so common in the nature of men, to see the sins of others and be blind to their own sin.
The Lord God now shows the spiritual adultery of His people. They have become worshipers of the Canaanite gods and taken part in their pagan rituals. They worship them in the green trees and among the smooth stones of the stream and on the high lofty places of the mountains. God here is the picture of the husband of Israel and yet they are attracted to idol worship as the adulterer. They have uncovered themselves spiritually before the false gods of the land that God has given them. “According to the presentation of verse seven, the whoredom of Judah is compared to that of an adulteress who has become so impudent that she no longer commits her sins in secret but publicly and shamelessly. She acts without and restraint and refuses to blush with shame.” (Bultema)
Under the green trees is fitting as many of the rituals of the false gods was conducting in illicit sex. A green place is fitting as the evergreen trees are constantly fertile. They would slay the children in the valleys as the pagan gods required child sacrifices. They would hear the metal god of Molech and place the children in his outstretched hands. These people would not make a small sacrifice for God but would slay their children for a pagan idol. “And as the love of harlots is oft hotter than that of husband and wife, so superstition many times out doeth true religion.” (Trapp)
The drink and grain offering should have been given to the Lord God but the people were willing to give greater offerings to false gods. “For the devil is God’s ape, and idolaters used the same rites and offerings in the worship of idols which God has prescribed in his own [worship].” (Poole)
God had told the Israelite people to inscribe His name and word on every doorpost, (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) but behind their door, they had remembrance of the pagan gods. “The sensitive Israelite reader would, of course, remember that it was the word of God – and, most aptly, the assertion that there is only one God – that was to be inscribed on the doors.” (Grogan)
As time went on the spiritual adultery of the people brought them no rewards. After the thrill of worshipping their false gods had passed they were wearied. Yet, they would not repent and turn away from their adultery and lived without hope.
The Lord now confronts His people because they do not fear Him but give their fear to the false gods of other nations. Their hearts are not troubled by their disobedience. Their superficial relationships with other gods have disconnected their view of God and they have lost their respect for Him.
The Lord God is asking if it is not that He has shown great mercy towards them that they have little respect for Him. They have made a fatal error that humanity often makes. They have taken the forbearance and mercy of God as weakness and do not fear their lack of obedience.
God’s people no longer trusted in Him for their provision and God said let them go to their idols and cry for help. But their idols are weak and helpless and they will find no comfort in them as a breath could take them away. Those who place their trust in the Lord will have the land and they will inherit the Holy Mountain of God.
The Lord is not placing obstacles in the path of those who desire to return to Him. “Heap it up” the Lord is talking of building a clear path without obstacle that people may come to Him without any obstacle. Whatever is in the way for us to come to the Lord must be removed. This was the cry of John the Baptist when he was in his ministry. (Mark 1:3)
To be right with the Lord one must understand His majesty. The Lord introduces Himself with titles of great majesty. His expectation is that His people will respond to Him as the glorious God that He is. If our spirits are humble and contrite, then the High and Lofty One will dwell with us. We often forget our place in creation, that when we approach God we should do so in humility knowing that we are a broken people we are seeking the presence of a High and Lofty almighty God who created the heavens and the earth.
God is consumed with a great love for His creation and is willing to display His mercy upon them and cannot forever be angry with them. God is the Father and He disciplines those who He loves. He has seen our ways and will heal us from our shortcomings. God will lead His people and provide comforts for them.
In the world cursed by sin, there is no peace. God invites all men to peace, those that are far and those who are near. Each man can receive the peace that comes from God. It may not be the absence of the world’s hostility but it is the knowledge of precious well-being. The Apostle Paul describes this peace from God exactly. “And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.” (Ephesians 2:17-18)
There will be no peace for the wicked for they have rejected the peace of God. To have God’s peace you must be willing to accept it. “Their minds are restless, being perpetually hurried and tormented with their own lusts and passions, and with the horror of their guilt, and the dread of Divine vengeance due unto them, and ready to come upon them.” (Poole)