Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD has spoken, I have nourished and brought up children…
The message to the "sinful nation" with which the book of Isaiah begins has for ourselves the tremendous force of timeliness as well as truth.
I. We are led to consider, that STATE AND NATION ARE INVOLVED TOGETHER. The country is "desolate," the cities are "burned with fire, and the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city." We remember indeed that the saints have survived in "the dens and caves of the earth." But these victories of truth and righteousness — God's power to overrule wickedness — by no means contradict Isaiah's vision. If it is true that the Founder of the Church can maintain its strength notwithstanding civil turmoil and decay, let us also consider how God magnifies the Church through days of peace and virtue. Jesus Himself waited until the nations were still And what may be the possibilities for His kingdom of the continued growth and happiness of our own country, it is entrancing to contemplate. The treasuries of love, how full they may be! The pastors and teachers for every dark land, — what hosts there may be prepared!
II. Aroused to the consideration of such a problem, we readily appreciate the prophet's reference to THE RESPONSIBILITY OF RULERS (ver. 10). Our own happy visions of the future may all be over clouded if there be but one Ahab in authority. The exhortation, therefore, addresses those who as citizens are to be charged with the duty of placing men in power.
III. We find the prophet distinctly TRACING THE NATIONAL CALAMITIES TO THE NATION'S WICKEDNESS (Vers. 4-8).
IV. THE PROPHET'S MESSAGE TO HIS COUNTRYMEN IS PARTICULARLY DIRECTED AGAINST THEIR IMPIETY. They have forms of religion enough, indeed. But out of the people's worship the heart and life have departed. Only the husks remain. Perhaps it will be seen in the end that the Pharisee is not only as bad, but as bad a citizen too, as the glutton and the winebibber. The Pharisaic poison works with a more stealthy force and makes its attacks upon more vital parts. We are to look not only for a sinful nation's natural decay, but besides for those mighty interpositions of Providence in flood and famine, in pestilence and war, directly for its punishment and overthrow.
V. THE VALUE OF A "REMNANT." God has been saving remnants from the beginning — Noah, Abraham, Moses, Nehemiah — and the little companies of which such souls are the centre and the life in every age. God's plans are not spoiled by man's madness. If many rebel against Him, He saves the few and multiplies their power. The leaven leavens the whole lump again.
VI. Most impressive, therefore, is THE TENDER AND EMPHATIC PROCLAMATION OF MERCY AND PARDON in this chapter.
(Hanford A. Edson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.