Isaiah 33:24

This is clearly a figure, designed to complete the picture of relief from the strain and pressure and anxiety of the time of invasion. Sickness is the constant attendant on prolonged siege. The point on which we may dwell is that sickness is the sign of the presence of evil, of sin; and so heaven is represented as the place where there is no more sickness, because there is no more sin. This connection between sickness and sin lies at the basis of some of the most important Mosaic regulations. It explains the importance ceremonially attached to the one disease of leprosy. Trench states this very skillfully: "The same principle which made all that had to do with death, a grave, a corpse, the occasions of a ceremonial uncleanness, inasmuch as all these were signs and consequences of sin, might in like manner, and with a perfect consistency, have made every sickness an occasion of uncleanness, each of these being also death beginning, partial death-echoes in the body of that terrible reality - sin in the soul. But, instead of this, in a gracious sparing of man, and not pushing the principle to the uttermost, God took but one sickness, one of those visible out comings of a tainted nature, in which to testify that evil was not from him, could not dwell with him; he took but one, with which to link this teaching. Leprosy, which was indeed the sickness of sicknesses, was selected of God to the end that, bearing his testimony against it, he might bear his testimony against that out of which it and all other sicknesses grew - against sin, as not from him, as grievous in his sight; and against the sickness itself also as grievous, inasmuch as it was a visible manifestation, a direct consequence, of the inner disharmony of man's spirit, a commencement of the death, which through disobedience to God's perfect will had found entrance into a nature made by God for immortality."

I. ALL SICKNESS IS A LITTLE DEATH. It is a beginning of death. Strangely death lurks in the smallest things - a pin-prick, a slip of the foot, a tiny clot of blood, the bite of a fly, etc.

II. ALL DEATHS ARE THE SIGN OF SIN. "The sting of death is sin." Sickness and death keep ever before men the fact that they are sinners.


IV. AS GOD IS GRACIOUSLY WORKING FOR THE REMOVAL OF SINS, WE KNOW HE IS WORKING ALSO FOR THE REMOVAL OF SUFFERING. The day cometh when he shall be able to "wipe all tears from our eyes." - R.T.

And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick.
Two principal circumstances are dwelt upon, as constituting the bliss of heaven.

I. THERE IS NO SORROW IN HEAVEN. "The inhabitant shall not say, I am sick." It is otherwise in this world, ruined as it has been by sin. Here "the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint." And what men universally feel, they with one consent complain of. In one way or other, every child of Adam is exclaiming, I am sick!" With some —

1. The body is sick. But in heaven there is nothing of all this.

2. The heart is sick — sick of "hope deferred," of rash and ill-judged wishes, of continual disappointments. In heaven, no heart saith, "I am sick." No disappointment, there, of former hopes. Even hope finds no admission there. "We hope for that we see not." But in heaven all is sight, and knowledge, and solid experience.

3. The soul is sick. In heaven no indwelling sin will remain, to suggest evil, when we "would do good": no tempter, to recommend to us forbidden pleasures: no apostate, rebellious world, to revile, ensnare, or persecute the friends of God. Still — as there can be no doubt that memory will accompany the soul into its heavenly habitation — it may be imagined by some that the recollection of sins committed on earth must interfere with its entire felicity. But the apprehension is groundless. That a deep sense of unworthiness will exist, there is no doubt; even the sinless angels feel this. But the painful sense of guilt will be for ever excluded.

II. THERE IS NO CONDEMNATION IN HEAVEN. "The people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity."

1. The forgiveness of sin will be more certain. Forgiveness is certain to the real believer; but who is certain of himself?

2. The forgiveness of sin will then be more complete, — not so much the forgiveness itself, as the consequences of it.

(J. Jowett, M. A.)

This whole chapter was a gracious message from God to a people who were in extremis. When the worst had come to the worst, He laid bare His arm and brought deliverance for His people. Is not this a general rule with God? The peril of Jerusalem serves as a dark background to bring out the brightness of my text.

I. THERE IS SUCH A THING AS PRESENT FORGIVENESS. There must be a present, conscious, enjoyable pardon of sin —

1. Else there would be no joy in the world for thoughtful minds.

2. Else the main motive and fountain of love would be dried up. Forgiveness begets gratitude, gratitude creates love, and love brings forth holiness.

3. Else we should always be in bondage through fear of death.

4. Else the whole system of grace would be a dead letter, and its glorious privileges would be mere shells without a kernel. Let us bend our thoughts to a consideration of this great blessing as it is treated of in this chapter.(1) It is plainly promised in the text.(2) If we wish to obtain this free pardon it will be granted in answer to prayer. Read the second verse: "O Lord, be gracious unto us."(3) Pardon is given in connection with the exaltation of God. Read the fifth verse: "The Lord is exalted." He does not grant this forgiveness until we begin to regognise that He is a great God and a Saviour. We must see that He is great in justice, and we must bow in penitence, and honour that justice.(4) God grants pardon when men are humbled. See the seventh verse: "Their valiant ones shall cry without: the ambassadors of peace shall weep bitterly."(5) God grants this pardon also when the heart is searched. Read the fourteenth verse: "The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire?" When we begin to examine ourselves, to fear because of sin, and to turn from all hypocrisy, then the Lord will accept us.(6) God will also pardon us when He is acknowledged to be our Ruler and Lord. Look at the twenty-second verse: "The Lord is our judge," &c.(7) He will also forgive us when we put our trust in Him. Read the last clause of the twenty-second verse: "He will save us." Faith must look for salvation from the Lord alone, and then salvation will come to it.

II. WHEN SIN IS PARDONED, THE CONSEQUENCES OF SIN ARE ALSO REMOVED. Sin had made these people sick, as Isaiah saith in his first chapter — "The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint." But when iniquity is forgiven, then "the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick." Special chastisement is usually removed when any peculiar sin is forgiven. In the case of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, if some of the temporal results of sin do not cease, yet it is only in appearance that they remain: or rather they remain for other purposes, benign and useful, and not as wrathful inflictions.


1. They have no need to say it when the Lord comes and dwells with them; for the Sun of Righteousness hath risen upon them with healing in His wings.

2. They shall have no thought of saying, "I am sick." He that feels the joy of pardoned sin forgets all his pains and griefs.

3. These people did not say they were sick, since they had a motive for not saying so. The three lepers who went out and divided the spoil did not say, "We are lepers": that was forgotten, and they entered the tents as if they had been in health. They went into one pavilion and ate and drank, and then they went into another. Men free from leprosy could not have made themselves more at home. They took away gold and silver and hid it; though they were lepers. So when the Lord pardons our sin there is a prey to be taken: riches of grace are at our disposal.

4. Pardoned people shall not say they are sick, for by a little anticipation they shall declare the very contrary. In a little time we shall be where the inhabitant shall never be sick again.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. Let us speak of THOSE "ILLS THAT FLESH IS HEIR TO." Wherever man exists in this world, the cry is heard, "I a m sick." It is so because wherever man exists there is sin. Disease has been sent to reprove the sins of men, and to correct them with salutary pain. We are not competent to decide what specific connection there is between disease and sin in the case of our fellow-men. Endurance of sickness is more often a mark of God's goodwill than of His severe displeasure.

1. Pain removes us out of the way of temptation, gives us time for reflection, when we were hastily running into danger.

2. How much a formidable sickness has helped a believer in drawing out his thoughts to the heavenly country and the passage into glory! But these considerations do not remove this original and humbling fact that sickness is a disorder in God's world and that it is connected with that moral disorder which we call sin.

II. THE REMOVAL OF BOTH THESE. AS sickness and sin entered together, so shall they depart together.

(D. Fraser, D. D.)

il: — Upon one other point connected the forgiveness of sins we get instruction from the experience of Jerusalem. Pardon does not change the outside of life; it does not immediately modify the movements of history, or suspend the laws of nature. Although God has forgiven Jerusalem, Assyria comes back to besiege her. Although the penitent be truly reconciled to God, the constitutional results of his fall remain: the frequency of temptation, the power of habit, the bias and facility downwards, the physical and social consequences. Pardon changes none of these things. It does not keep off the Assyrians. But, if pardon means the return of God to the soul, then in this we have the secret of the return of the foe. Men could not try nor develop a sense of the former except by their experience of the latter, Had the Assyrians not returned, the Jews would have had no experimental proof of God's restored presence, and the great miracle would never have happened that rang through human history for evermore — a trumpet-call to faith in the God of Israel And so, still "the Lord scourgeth every son whom He receiveth," because He would put our penitence to the test; because He would discipline our disorganised affections, and give conscience and will a chance of wiping out defeat by victory; because He would baptize us with the most powerful baptism possible — the sense of being trusted once more to face the enemy upon the fields of our disgrace.

(Prof. G. A. Smith, D. D.)

A friend who met Lord Beaconsfield soon after that statesman had lost his helpful wife hoped that he was quite well. In a hollow voice Beaconsfield answered, "Nobody is quite well." This is true.


A brother had grievously offended, and had been put out from Church fellowship for his sin; and he so behaved that his pastor thought of him with pain, and was glad to avoid an interview with him, for it only produced a sad attempt at self-justification. At length the Lord brought him to a better mind. He sought his pastor, and said, with tears, "Will you shake hands with me?" The pastor replied, "Right gladly. I rejoice to feel that the past is all forgiven. How are you?" The repentant one made this reply, "I am quite Well now that you restore me to your esteem." The poor man was extremely ill, but the joy of being once more in his old place in his friend's thoughts made him refuse to say, "I am sick."

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

"Thy sins be forgiven thee." It is a beautiful figure. It is as if a boat was moored to a filthy mainland and could not get away. There comes a man who cuts the cable, and the boat floats away down stream. That is the figure given. The Lord comes and cuts the cable that binds me to the filthy mainland of the past, and my boat goes free.

(J. H. Jowett, M. A.).

Come near, ye nations, to hear.
represents here all the powers hostile to the Church of God as such, and is thus an idea of the profoundest and widest cosmical significance.

(F. Delitzsch.)

The eternal punishment falling on the Edomites is depicted (vers. 8-10) in figures and colours suggested by the nearness of Edom to the Dead Sea, and the volcanic character of this mountain-land; it suffers the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah (Jeremiah 49:18).

(F. Delitzsch.)

and 35: — These are two wonderful chapters, and great use is made of them by Jeremiah and by Zephaniah. This use of the Bible by the Bible is of great consequence; not only is it interesting as a literary incident, but it is full of suggestion as to the range and certainty and usefulness of inspiration.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

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