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ment, until the indignation have passed by. For behold! the Lord cometh out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth shall disclose her bloodshed, and no more cover her slain. In that day the Lord with His sore, and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the swift serpent, and leviathan the crooked serpent, and He shall slay the dragon that is in the sea. The Song of the Lord's Vineyard.
In that day sing ye unto her of the vineyard of red wine:I the Lord do keep it : I water it every moment, Lest any hurt it, I do keep it night and day. Fury have I none ! Were briers and thorns set against Me ! In battle would I go against them: I would burn them all
up. Or else take hold of My Strength, and make peace with Me! He shall cause those that come of Jacob to take root : Israel shall blossom, and bud: they shall cover the earth
with fruit. Hath He smitten him, as He smote those that smote him? Was he slain, as those that slew him, were slain ? In measure, by sending her away, Thou contendest with
her. He hath scared her with His rough blast in the day of His
east wind. In this way Jacob's iniquity is purged. This shall be the fruit of taking away his sin. When he maketh all his altar stones like broken chalk
stones; When all the Asherim, and sun-images shall rise no more. The defenced city shall be desolate—the home forsaken,
There shall calves feed, and lie: they shall eat the trees
thereof. When the boughs thereof are withered, they shall be broken
off, The women shall come, and set them on fire. For it is not a people of understanding. Their Maker pities them not: their Creator favours them not.
(Ch. xxvi. 20, 21; xxvii. I-11.)
A Promise of Restoration.
And it shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall beat out His corn from the channel of the River (Euphrates) unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye Children of Israel: and it shall come to pass in that day that a great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come, even those that were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the Holy mountain in Jerusalem.
(Ch. xxvii. 12, 13.)
THE PROPHECIES OF ISAIAH READ IN THEIR HISTORICAL SETTING, WITH EXPLANATORY NOTES.
(Pp. 11-14.) THE HISTORICAL CONDITIONS OF THE PROPHET'S MINISTRY,
AND ITS DURATION.
The opening verse of the book of the prophecies of Isaiah, as it lies before us, gives us the information we seek about the time during which the prophet lived and flourished. His ministry began just as King Uzziah was closing his reign. This sovereign had had a long, and for many years an illustrious career : but his prosperity had passed under a cloud, and he ended his days in darkness. During the latter years of his reign the powers of government had been entrusted to his son Jotham, as regent. Now in the year that Uzziah died, and Jotham became king—at a time when the earthly throne of Jerusalem was losing one and receiving another occupant-Isaiah received his vision of the heavenly Throne filled with its perpetual occupant, and surrounded by its transcendent glory. With this vision of the King, the Lord of Hosts enthroned in glory, Isaiah received his call to office. The exact year of this important event is not absolutely determined : it lies between 742 and 740. The sad close of Uzziah's reign, and the absence of any outstanding quality in the character of Jotham, that might give
the promise of good things, would certainly very deeply impress the people and the prophet alike with the imperfections of even a Davidic king. During the half century of Uzziah's reign Jerusalem had enjoyed a large measure of prosperity-indications of which the prophet gives in his earliest prophecies (p. 17)—but a prosperity which brought the people into perilous relations with the idolatrous tribes of the East. Both on the part of the king and the nation, there followed that overweening confidence in human resources, success so often brings about: and their hearts were lifted up in rebellion against God. The claims and prerogatives of Jehovah were forgotten and dishonoured : the worship of Jehovah was largely departed from; and leprosy seized the king, while indifferentism dulled the people's religious sensibilities. In such circumstances Isaiah spent his youth : to lift up his voice on behalf of Jehovah, and to protest against all indifferentism was he called forth. And this just as Jotham assumes full kingly authority--a man whose life was marked by no great sin, nor by any signal act of devotion to Jehovah. “He entered not into the Temple of the Lord.” The people continued unrestrained and unrebuked; still they did corruptly. The king performed no act of reparation to Jehovah. He simply abstained from Uzziah's great sin. Jotham's reign was, however, one of external prosperity. But with his death a crisis is brought about in the history of the people of Judah by the accession of an openly idolatrous king like unto Ahab, even Ahaz. Great activity characterised Isaiah during this sad reign, when the divine honour was so much called in question. Ahaz reigned about fourteen years, and during that time the prophet passed through varied experiences. Although he played at first a most conspicuous part in
HISTORICAL CONDITIONS OF THE PROPHET'S MINISTRY. 105
fully and faithfully declaring the mind and will of Jehovah to the king, and condemning his foreign alliances and sinful fear, yet in the later years the prophet, rejected by the court, must have been largely living in retirement, labouring among his disciples, and waiting for the morning. This came with its brightening dawn in the deathyear of Ahaz, when a king of noble promise, a friend and pupil of the prophet's own, a true Davidic king, ascended the throne of his father. This year of Hezekiah's succession, consequently, is marked by another glorious manifestation of prophetic activity. The night's weeping was now over, and the joy of the morning encouraged the prophet to appear once more before the public, to utter messages concerning all the immediate neighbours of Jerusalem, and very especially concerning that great Northern Empire, which, like a mighty wave, was now sweeping everythingevery human resistance—before it. The great question was at that time being asked, “What then shall one answer the messengers of the nation ?” Ambassadors from all parts would doubtless come with many inquiries to Jerusalem concerning the future. To the prophet these would be referred : and his answer in God's great Name was one of hope and confidence: “The Lord hath founded Zion and in her shall the afflicted of His people take refuge." But surrounded as Hezekiah was by courtiers trained in the timeserving school of Ahaz—men wholly incapable of seeing what the prophet saw, or of acting as the prophet enjoinedhe found himself entangled in endless complications, and notably in the matter of an alliance with Egypt. Isaiah pointed out to Hezekiah that his duty was to regard Jehovah as his salvation and all his desire, urging that even from a worldly point of view the safety of Jerusalem lay in a policy