The Book of Isaiah Bible Study Chapter 57 Part 1

Isaiah

Our next reading is Isaiah 57:1-13

There was a constant sin that plagued the people of G-d: idolatry. Many times, the prophets speak of idolatry as a spiritual adultery. Rather than being faithful to G-d – their husband – Israel committed spiritual adultery and went after other gods. Moses commanded them not to do so and had warned that such actions would bring about G-d’s judgment upon them (His curse) rather than His blessing. Idolatry was common and popular among the people because it is rooted in the desire of the flesh (what we want rather than what G-d commands). 

In this chapter, G-d is contrasting the man/woman of G-d (those who have faith and who are submissive to the commandments of G-d) with those who are practicing idolatry (those who have removed themselves from the constraints of G-d’s Word). 

v1: No man takes it to heart: No man pays attention to what has happened. No man understands the reason behind it.

  • Taken away: Gathered up. This expression can be used as an idiom for dying – being removed from this world. 
  • The righteous is taken away from evil: G-d is revealing to us something that He does. There are times when G-d will take an individual (ie a person dies) as evil is approaching. G-d takes them to spare them from it. 

v2: Enter into peace: For the righteous ones, peace will come. 

  • They shall rest in their beds: Instead of suffering the evil of this world, they are going to experience peace and rest – they are going to be comforted. 
  • Beds: Within this context this is speaking of a place of safety and security (we are going to see that a bed is not always a place of safety and security. A bed can also be seen as a place of idolatry and idolatrous practices. It can be seen as a place of discomfort). 
  • (Literally: Walks before Him): These are not the words for walking uprightly, although the implication is they will be walking uprightly. The word means to ‘walk before Him’ – to be in the presence of Someone (ie G-d). 
  • Peace…rest…(walks before Him): This righteous person who has perished is going to be brought into peace. He is going to find rest, and he is going into the very presence of G-d (2 Cor 5:8). 

v3: But: This conjunction shows that there is a contrast. In this case it is a contrast/difference between a righteous person (those who are going to experience G-d’s peace and being in His presence) and an unrighteous person (those whom G-d is not pleased with). 

  • Come here: They need to draw near so that they can hear. 
  • You: Isaiah is speaking to the majority of the people of Israel. 
  • Sorceress: That which has to do with the occult. 
  • Offspring (seed) of the adulterer: These people have been born out of adultery. This is part of their character and heritage. 
  • Harlot: Isaiah is speaking about harlotry as spiritual harlotry (ie idolatry). 

v4: You: Written in the plural. 

  • Make a wide mouth and stick out the tongue: They make a wide mouth so that they can stick out their tongues. 
  • Transgression: Crime (physically and spiritually they practice crime). Sin. 
  • The offspring (seed) of falsehood: They do not belong to the seed of Abraham. 

v5: Inflaming (warming) yourselves: Exciting or arousing themselves in a fleshly way, a way that is displeasing to G-d.

  • Green tree: A tree of refreshment. A strong and pretty tree. When idolatry is spoken of in the Bible a tree is often alluded to. Some commentators say that a tree should remind us of the same mentality that Eve had when she went to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. She went there for herself. She went there to exalt herself – doing what she thought was best. This is the same mindset that those who go under these trees employ. 
  • Slaying (slaughtering) the children: Their idolatrous mindsets deceived them to the point that they were even willing to sacrifice their own children. The word used here for slaughtering refers to a religious slaughtering. They killed their children for the sake of their religion. 
  • In the valleys, under the clefts of the rocks: They went to these places which were beautiful and pleasing to the eye. They gratified themselves there, and the outcome of that was that they ritually slaughtered their children in these beautiful places. 

v6: Smooth stones: Smooth stones were used in idolatrous worship practices.

  • They are your lot: This is their future. All they get is a bunch of rocks – nothing of significance, nothing with good spiritual implications, nothing that resembles life.
  • Grain offering: A sacrificial offering. 
  • Should I receive comfort in these: Will G-d respond favourably to their offerings? Will He find comfort in them? No, He will not. 

v7: Set your bed: This is contrasting the heavenly bed, a place of true comfort, with the falsehood of idolatry and the bed that they make for themselves.

  • You went up to offer sacrifice: They went up into a mountain but not the proper mountain – not the temple mountain – but rather a place of idolatry. They did not go to the place where G-d’s name and character dwells.

v8: Behind the doors and their posts you have set up your remembrance: The Jewish people place a mezuzah on the front of the doorframes of their homes (Deut 6:6-9). Instead of putting their remembrances/memorials in the place where G-d commanded them to, these people are putting them behind the doors and posts – not in front of them. 

  • You have enlarged your bed: They have built their own resting places. The people have rejected G-d’s provision, His purposes, plans and instructions. They labour hard to get what they desire; they do not pursue the desires of G-d.
  • You have loved their bed: They have exchanged the comfort (rest and peace) of the Kingdom of G-d, and they prefer to make their bed in the midst of idolatrous practices. 
  • Hand: This is the word for authority and power. 

v9: You: The people of Israel.

  • The king: This is not referring to G-d – the King of kings – but is referring to the kings of this world. 
  • Ointment (scented oil): Song of Songs 1:3 reveals to us that a pleasant fragrance or ointment is good deeds – a G-dly character. These people do not have good deeds. They do not have a character that resembles G-d’s character. They are therefore coming before the king with their own deeds. 
  • Sheol: The place of death. Instead of humbling themselves and being exalted they act disgracefully and humiliate themselves. Their end is this place of death. They will not know rest or peace. 

v10: Wearied: Their own way is not bringing them rest or peace. Satisfying their flesh is bringing them no comfort. They are exhausting themselves. 

  • You did not say, ‘There is no hope’: There are in despair, but they are not admitting to it. 
  • You have found the life of your hand: They have given in to a powerful delusion, a false sense of their security. They think everything will eventually just work out. They will not admit that they are spiritually sick and afflicted. 

v11: Not remembered Me, nor taken it to your heart: They have not been paying attention. 

  • Held My peace: G-d has been quiet (withheld His judgment) for a purpose – He has given the people time to understand the fruitlessness of their ways and to repent. This lack of immediate judgment on G-d’s part has caused the people to become complacent and has led to a lack of the fear of G-d. 

v12: Note: In this verse G-d evaluates the idolaters and He tells them what His perception of their behaviour is. 

  • I will declare your righteousness: These idolaters think that what they are doing (their works) are righteous. 
  • They will not profit you: Although they thought they were righteous, from G-d’s point of view they were not. This is not going to lead to a good conclusion for them.

v13: Deliver: Save

  • The wind will carry them all away: These idols have no substance or value. 
  • My holy mountain: G-d’s holy mountain is an idiom for the Kingdom. Those who trust in the L-rd are going to be part of that Kingdom hope and inheritance. 

Note: There is a very significant distinction between those who are of grace (those who demonstrate righteousness) and those who are practicing idolatry (committing spiritual adultery). We can expect these two groups to experience very different futures from an eternal standpoint. 

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