For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning,
that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4

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 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2007 James Melough


57:1. “The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.”

Wickedness was so rampant in Israel that the few who were righteous found peace only in death; and the same conditions will prevail worldwide just prior to the Rapture, when believers will be “caught up (to heaven), in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,” 1 Cor 15:52, just prior to the beginning of the Tribulation era; nor is it difficult to see that that same tidal wave of evil is sweeping over the world today. The Rapture must surely be near.

57:2. “He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.”

Those raptured will enter into eternal peace in heaven, their rest being likened to that of men resting quietly on their beds at the end of the day, because during their earthly lives they will have walked obediently before God. This is the sure expectation of every born-again believer, no matter when he may live here on earth: his eternal rest is certain; “uprightness” in the present context meaning, “doing what is right in God’s sight.”

57:3. “But draw ye near hither, ye sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and the whore.”

Those described here were similar to those who constitute the great false church as represented by Roman Catholicism and her evil twin sister, professing but apostate Protestantism. The sorceress speaks of the evil spiritual character of both systems; while the adulterer and the whore represent them as being those who have turned aside from the knowledge of God to embrace utter evil.

The adulterer speaks of the pleasure the votaries of both systems find in their union with evil, while the whore indicates the wealth procured by it; and it is ominously significant that the Roman Catholic system is one of the wealthiest entities on earth; nor is apostate Protestantism by any means a pauper.

57:4. “Against whom do ye sport yourselves? against whom make ye a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue? are ye not children of transgression, a seed of falsehood,”

The Jerusalem Bible translates this verse, “At whom are ye jeering, and making faces, and sticking out your tongue? Are you not the spawn of sin, children of lies?”

This is God’s response to both systems. He denounces them as being the product of sin, nurtured by false teaching, for they sneer at those believers who seek to worship and work according to Scriptural order rather than the elaborate systems of men.

57:5. “Enflaming yourselves with idols, under every green tree, slaying the children in the valleys, under the clifts of the rocks?”

The reference is not only to the sexual orgies that were contemporaneous with their idolatry, but to the immolation of their children on the altars they had erected all over the land; and no spiritual mind will fail to see that today’s society is in the same sorry state. Sex is the goddess universally worshiped today, while children are taught nothing about God, but are instead taught to value money, education, art, literature,
music, and a multitude of other things having no eternal value, so that they plunge on to everlasting perdition having no knowledge of God.

57:6. “Among the smooth stones of the stream is thy portion; they are thy lot; even to them hast thou poured a drink-offering, thou has offered a meat(meal)-offering. Should I receive comfort in these?”

The smooth stones were those of the stream-beds in the valleys or gorges where apostate Israel, aping her heathen neighbors, presented her idolatrous worship to the same imaginary gods.

“... they are thy lot” is also translated “this is thy portion,” i.e., they had chosen to forsake Jehovah, and to worship idols instead; and before rushing to condemn them, we should consider whether we haven’t been guilty of similar spiritual idolatry by devoting our time and energy to the pursuit of money, education, pleasure, fame, and similar worthless things, while neglecting these which have eternal worth.

God’s indignant response was to ask whether they thought the offerings they then brought also to Him could appease His anger at such an affront to His honor; and apostate Christendom would do well to ponder the same question relative to what they place on the collection plates of today’s so-called churches. It has been largely forgotten that, “To obey is better than sacrifice; and to hearken than the fat of rams,” 1 Sa 15:22.

“Should I receive comfort in these?” is better translated as in the ASV “Shall I be appeased for these things?”

57:7. “Upon a lofty and high mountain hast thou set thy bed; even thither wentest thou up to offer sacrifice.”

The idolatrous shrines were frequently set up on the hilltops, and “set thy bed” refers to the sexual immorality almost invariably connected with such idolatry.

57:8. “Behind the doors also and the posts hast thou set up thy remembrance: for thou hast discovered thyself to another than me, and art gone up; thou has enlarged thy bed, and made thee a covenant with them; thou lovedst their bed where thou sawest it.”

“Behind the door and the side-posts you have set up your phallic symbol; and apart from me have your stripped and gone up, you have distended your parts; you have bargained for these whose embraces you love; and with them have you multiplied your harlotries, while gazing on the phallus,” is the AAT translation of this verse, while the NEB rendering reads, “Beside door and door-post you have put up your sign. Deserting me, you have stripped and lain down on the wide bed which you have made, and you drove bargains with men for the pleasure of sleeping together, and you have committed countless acts of fornication in the heat of your lust.”

“...enlarged thy bed” describes the many heathen gods they worshiped. The description continues to be of the lewd activity connected with the idolatry in which Israel had become involved, and which is associated with all pagan worship.

57:9. “And thou wentest to the king with ointment, and didst increase thy perfumes, and didst send thy messengers far off, and didst debase thyself even unto hell.”

The reference here is to Israel’s worship of Molech the God of the Ammonites who were her bitter foes; and her having debased herself even unto hell declares that such idolatry condemned her to hell, there being no evidence of her having repented of her evil.

57:10. “Thou art wearied in the greatness of thy way; yet saidst thou not, There is no hope: thou has found the life of thine hand; therefore thou was not grieved.”

The NEB renders this verse, “Worn out with your unending excesses, even so you never said, I am past hope. You earned a livelihood and so you had no anxiety,” and the ASV reads, “Thou wast wearied with the length of thy way: yet saidst thou not, It is in vain: thou didst find a quickening of thy strength; therefore thou wast not faint.” Though often wearied by her idolatrous excesses, Israel was never moved to abandon them; and so is it still: often wearied in its pursuit of the worthless things of the world, and jaded by the lifelessness of its religion, apostate Christendom still will not give them up.

57:11. “And of whom hast thou been afraid or feared, that thou hast lied, and hast not remembered me, nor laid it to thy heart? have not I held my peace even of old, and thou fearest me not?”

TAYLOR’S translation reads, “Why were you more afraid of them than of Me? How is it that you have not given a second thought to Me? Is it because I’ve been too gentle, that you have no fear of Me?”

Concerning the reverential fear that man ought to have for God it is written, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” Ps 111:10, but, “The fear of man bringeth a snare....” Pr 29:25. God is not a tyrannical Master Who desires to have men cringe before Him in fear; but rather a God of love Who values very highly the obedience impelled by love for Him. His very gentleness however, has led many to conclude that He will never punish sin, and that is a very great mistake, for he who dies in his sins will discover to his eternal horror that God “is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity,” Hab 1:13. His patience should never be construed as indifference to sin. Those who refuse to trust in Christ as Savior will suffer eternal torment in the lake of fire.

57:12. “I will declare thy righteousness, and thy works; for they shall not profit thee.”

The righteousness mentioned here is self-righteousness, and the works are those by which religious but unbelieving men hope to fit themselves for heaven. All such good works are worthless, as it is written, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost,” Titus 3:5, “regeneration” here meaning the new birth, which results in the Holy Spirit’s taking up residence in the believer’s body thus sealing him as one who belongs to God. See also Eph 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved though faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.”

57:13. “When thou criest, let thy companies deliver thee; but the wind shall carry them all away; vanity shall take them: but he that putteth his trust in me shall possess the land, and shall inherit my mountain;”

“... companies” here refers to the multitude of the idols which they worshiped and trusted in for salvation, their worthlessness being declared in God’s likening them to the dust which the wind blows away. Such is every imagined way to heaven. Only faith in Christ as Savior brings salvation.

The “land” here is Palestine; and “my mountain” is Jerusalem, the reference being to what will be in the Millennium, but the ultimate application is to the eternal blessing and glory of every believer.

57:14. “And shall say, Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumblingblock out of the way of my people.”

The NEB translation of this verse reads, “Then a voice shall be heard: Build up a highway, built it and clear the track, sweep away all that blocks my peoples’ path.”

This translates into the assurance that God would yet prepare a way for His people to return from Babylon, which He did; but it also continues to describe Millennial conditions. There will then be no hindrance to the world-wide proclamation of the gospel.

57:15. “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of contrite and humble spirit, to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”

This KJ translation seems to imply that the humble and contrite also dwell in that same place, which they do spiritually, but not literally. The ambiguity is removed by the better Jerusalem Bible translation, “I live in a high and holy place, but I am also with the contrite and humbled spirit, to give the humbled spirit new life, to revive contrite hearts,” He being with them through His Holy Spirit who indwells every born-again believer.

57:16. “For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made.”

The NEB and Taylor translations combine to render this verse, “I will not be always accusing, I will not continually nurse my wrath - if I did, all mankind would perish, the very souls that I have made.”

This however, may not be taken to mean that everyone will eventually be forgiven. The Bible teaches otherwise. Only born-again believers are forgiven, but all who die in unbelief will endure eternal torment in the lake of fire. It is here on earth that God contends with men seeking to bring them to repentance, but His solemn warning is that that striving will not continue indefinitely even here on earth, see Gen. 6:3, “My spirit shall not always strive with man ....” and again, “He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy,” Pr. 29:1.

57:17. “For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart.”

“For a time I was angry at the guilt of Israel; I smote him in my anger and withdrew my favor. But he ran wild and went his wilful way,” NEB.

God has smitten rebel Israel many times in the past, one of those chastisements being the diaspora of AD 70, from which they have only begun to return to Palestine since 1938, and continue to do so today; and most recently their near annihilation under Hitler, their present regathering being the warning to the world that the end of the age is near.

57:18. “I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead im also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners.”

The NEB translation of this verse reads, “Then I considered his ways, I cured him and gave him relief, and I brought him comfort in full measure, brought peace to those who mourned for him, by the words that issue from my lips, peace for all men, both near and far, and so I cured him, says the Lord.”

This will be fulfilled in the Millennium.

57:19. “I create the fruit of the lips: Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord; and I will heal him.”

“Then I considered his ways, I cured him and gave him relief, and I brought him comfort in full measure, brought peace to those who mourned for him, by the words that issue from my lips, peace for all men, both near and far, and so I cured him, says the Lord,” NEB

“... him that is far off” is the Gentile; and “him that is near” is the Jew.

This continues to describe the Millennial blessing of Israel and the nations.

57:20. “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.”

History attests the accuracy of this description, for were it not that it has painted man’s activity in its most brilliant colors, the portrait would be of wickedness which by comparison makes even the most ferocious animal look like a lamb.

57:21. “There is no peace, saith my God, to wicked.”

The RIP (Rest in Peace) carved on most headstones implies a state which is very far from what most of the deceased are experiencing, for in response to the question, “Are there few that be saved?” the Lord declared, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able,” see Lk 13:23-30.

The dreadful truth is that many of the occupants of those graves adorned with such headstones have entered, not into peace, but into eternal torment because they have died without ever having trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.


[Isaiah 58]

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     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
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