For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: "I dwell in a high and holy place, and with the oppressed and humble of spirit, to restore the spirit of the lowly and revive the heart of the contrite.
I. HIS EXALTATION. "High and holy:" high because holy, exalted far above the meanness of human thoughts and the impurity of human ways. Far above creatures of all species and all ranks, it is needless further to designate him. He is the Incomparable One. He dwells in eternity (cf. Isaiah 9:6). His Name is "the Holy One" (Isaiah 1:4; Isaiah 30:11; Isaiah 40:25; Isaiah 41:14; Isaiah 43:3, 8; Isaiah 47:4); his place the high and holy place, or temple (Isaiah 6:1).
II. HIS CONDESCENSION "Wherever the Scripture bears witness to the Divine mightiness, it brings out side by side with it the Divine humbleness (Deuteronomy 10:17, 18; Isaiah 57:15; Psalm 68:4, 5). It is not an Epicurean view of God (Acts 17:18), nor the Gnostic view that God had left the world to the management of inferior beings, by himself created. Though illimitable and unapproachable, he delights to make his abode with men. "He cannot direct the affairs of his people from without. He desires to be enthroned in their hearts." He is with them that are of a contrite, or crushed, spirit - souls bowed down with a sense of sin and unworthiness (Psalm 34:18; Psalm 138:6), to make alive their spirit, to impart strength and comfort, even as genial rains and dews fall upon the drooping plant. Such a lowly state of mind can only have been produced by affliction (Isaiah 61:1; Isaiah 65:14; 66:2; Psalm 34:18; Psalm 147:2, 3).
III. HIS FAITHFULNESS AND LOVE. He will not be angry with his people for ever (Psalm 103:9). The soul could not hold out in a prolonged contention with its Maker. Its power must fail; it must sink into destruction. "If we are God's children, we are safe. We may suffer much and long. We may suffer so much, it may seem scarce possible we should endure more. But he knows how much we can bear, and will lighten the burden and remove the load" (Psalm 128:38, 39). Why has he smitten them at all? It is because of their sin. Unjust gain is put for sin in general (cf. Jeremiah 6:13; Jeremiah 5:1; Ezekiel 33:31; Psalm 119:36), even, as in other places, the shedding of blood, He has seen their ways, both of sin and aberration, of suffering and amendment. Having hidden himself, he will now interpose to heal their wounds, and to guide them by a clearer path (Isaiah 58:11). (For sin as disease, and pardon as healing, cf. Jeremiah 33:6; 2 Chronicles 7:14; Psalm 41:4; Jeremiah 3:22; Jeremiah 17:4; 53:14:4.) And as the result of all this, he creates the "fruit of the lips" (cf. Hosea 14:2), i.e. praise and thanksgiving; of which the subject would be peace (cf. Ephesians 2:14-17) to the near and remote, Jew and Gentile, or with reference to the holy city; no degree of remoteness was to disqualify true Israelites from the enjoyment of the promise.
IV. THE CONTRAST. The impure and the unpardoned alone shall know no peace. Those who are in a state of alienation from Jehovah shall be, on the contrary, like the restless, ever-shifting sea (Jude 1:13; cf. Ovid, 'Tristia,' 1:10. 33). They have no fixed happiness, no substantial peace; a rage of passion ever ferments within them; past guilt casts up its mire in memory; feat's of the future torment. How different from the scene where "the good man meets his fate, quite in the verge of heaven"!
So fades a summer cloud away;
I. Let us consider who Is SPEAKING IN THE TEXT. This is necessary to a right apprehension of what He says, and particularly to a clear perception of those riches of condescension, compassion, and grace, which His words unfold to our view.
For thus saith the High and Lofty One that inhabiteth eternity.
I. HIS TWO TITLES.
1. "The High and Lofty One." The nation had lapsed into unblushing idolatry. They had made surrender of their traditional creed, and specially of its fundamental article — the personality and unity of Jehovah; degrading it with the abominations of the Phoenician and Assyrian mythologies. In-addition to altars to Baal, crowning the high places, statues of Astarte were erected amid the groves of Terebinth. This latter goddess seemed to have been adopted by Ahaz as his tutelary deity; an awful and debasing counterfeit truly of the Supreme: sitting on a lion, holding a thunderbolt and sceptre in either hand, and her head surrounded with the crescent moon. No king, before or since, so defiled and desecrated the holy temple. Isaiah himself, amid this awful deterioration, this widespread atheism, might well be apt to give way to despair. His faith at times could hardly fail to be clouded. But the God he served calmed his fears and allayed his apprehensions by a special proclamation of His glory, and goodness, "I am the alone High and Lofty One.
2. "Whose name is Holy. The worst characteristic of these heathen deities was their unholiness.
II. HIS TWO PALACES.
1. The palace of eternity. "That inhabiteth eternity." In nothing do we feel how puny we are, as when we attempt to scan the marvels and glories of this Divine dwelling-place, with its illimitable corridors of space and time.
2. What a transition, from the halls and corridors of eternity, to the human bosom! There is a twofold description here given of this humbler tabernacle where Jehovah dwells — a twofold characteristic of the human heart.
(1) (2) (J. R. Macduff, D. D.)
(2) (J. R. Macduff, D. D.)
(J. R. Macduff, D. D.)
1. He is "the High and Lofty One."
2. He inhabiteth eternity. He is therefore as different as possible from the children of men.
3. His name is Holy.
II. Let us consider WHAT IS SAID BY HIM.
1. He tells us that He "dwells in the high and holy place;" that is, in the heaven of heavens, the peculiar residence of the Deity, where His glory is chiefly manifested, and His favour is chiefly enjoyed. Heaven is not only high, but the highest place in the whole creation. There is no other place that can for a moment be compared with it, either in glory or felicity. Nor is there any other place so holy.
2. God here says that He dwells also with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit. By the man thus described we are to understand the sinner who has been enlightened by the Spirit Of God, who has been convinced of his sinfulness, and brought to true repentance.
3. God here tells us what is the end He has in view in dwelling with such characters. It is to "revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." The same God that afflicts the sinner revives and cheers him. Learn —
(1) (2) (3) (D Rees.)
(2) (3) (D Rees.)
(3) (D Rees.)
British Weekly.God has two special dwellings — the high and holy place, i.e. the heaven not merely of space, but of pure and blessed spirits; and the hearts of men who have felt their sin and their need of God.
1. These two dwellings are far apart, How wide and great the one, how small and narrow the other! How permanent the one, how passing the other! How bright and untroubled the one, how dark and troubled the other!
2. They have yet something in common. The high place is akin to the humble spirit, for to see the far and high, and to long for it, is to rise; to have something of God within lifts up. The holy place is akin to the contrite heart; for to feel the sin and separation is to reach to the holy, and this comes from having God already in the heart at work.
3. They are to be brought into one. God dwells in them to unite them, to revive the spirit, to give life. And where God gives true life, He gives the earnest of heaven and eternity. These hearts are therefore on the way to being God's perpetual home.
4. The full end of these words is in Christ. He came from the high and holy place to dwell among men, and find a way into human hearts — to make heaven and the heart one and eternal.
1. The first measurement, so to speak, which is given of God's greatness, is in respect of time. He inhabiteth eternity.
2. There is a second measure given us of God in this verse. It is in respect of space. He dwelleth in the high and lofty place. He dwelleth, moreover, in the most insignificant place — even the heart of man. And the idea by which the prophet would here exhibit to us the greatness of God is that of His eternal omnipresence. It is difficult to say which conception carries with it the greatest exaltation — that of boundless space or that of unbounded time.
3. The third measure which is given us of God respects His character. His name is Holy(1) The chief knowledge which we have of God's holiness comes from our acquaintance with unholiness. We know what impurity is — God is not that. We scarcely can be rightly said to know, that is to feel, what God is. And therefore this is implied in the very name of holiness. Holiness in the Jewish sense means simply separateness. From all that is wrong, and mean, and base, our God is for ever separate.(2) There is another way in which God gives to us a conception of what this holiness implies. Holiness is only a shadow to our minds, till it receives shape and substance in the life of Christ.(3) There is a third light in which God's holiness is shown to us, and that is in the sternness with which He recoils from guilt. Revelation opens to us a scene beyond the grave, when this shall be exhibited in full operation. There will be an everlasting banishment from God's presence of that impurity on which the last efforts had been tried in vain. But it is quite a mistake to suppose that this is only a matter of revelation. Traces of it we have now on this side the sepulchre. Human life is full of God's recoil from sin.
II. THAT IN WHICH MAN'S GREATNESS CONSISTS.
1. The nature of that greatness. In these two things the greatness of man consists. One is to have God so dwelling in us as to impart His character to us; and the other is to have God so dwelling in us that we recognize His presence, and know that we are His and He is ours.
2. The persons who are truly great. These the Holy Scripture has divided into two classes — those who are humble and those who are contrite in heart. Or rather, it will be observed that it is the same class of character under different circumstances. Humbleness is the frame of mind of those who are in a state of innocence, contrition of those who are in a state of repentant guilt. Let not the expression" innocence" be misunderstood. Innocence in its true and highest sense never existed but once upon this earth. Innocence cannot be the religion of man now. But yet there are those who have walked with God from youth, not quenching the spirit which He gave them, and who are therefore comparatively innocent beings. They are described here as the humble in heart. Two things are required for this state of mind. One is that a man should have a true estimate of God, and the other is that he should have a true estimate of himself, The other class of those who are truly great are the contrite in spirit. Conclusion: —
1. The danger of coming into collision with such a God as our God. Day by day we commit sins of thought and word of which the dull eye of man takes no cognizance. He whose name is Holy cannot pass them by. God can wait, for He has a whole eternity before Him in which He may strike.
2. The heavenly character of condescension. It is not from the insignificance of man that God's dwelling with him is so strange. But the marvel is that the habitation which He has chosen for Himself is an impure one. If we would be Godlike, we must follow in the same steps. Our temptation is to do exactly the reverse. We are for ever wishing to obtain the friendship and the intimacy of those above us in the world.
3. The guilt of two things of which the world is full — vanity and pride. The distinction consists in this — the vain man looks for the admiration of others — the proud man requires nothing but his own.
(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)
I. THIS VOICE REVEALS AN EXISTENCE THAT STANDS IN SUBLIME CONTRAST WITH ALL THAT IS HUMAN.
II. THIS VOICE REVEALS A PRIVILEGE OF IMMENSE VALUE TO THE GOOD.
1. This VOICE reveals God's special regard for a good man's experience. This High and Lofty One condescends to regard with special interest those of a "contrite " and "humble" spirit.
2. This voice reveals God's special contact with a good man's existence. He not only dwells in the "high and holy place," but "with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit." "Dwelling" implies a close intimacy. He is, by the influences of His love, nearer to the good than He is to others; near to guide, to succour, to strengthen. Dwelling implies not only a close intimacy, but a permanent one. He does not come and go as an occasional sojourner; He continues as a settled resident in the soul. He is always with His people, in sorrow and joy, in life and death.
3. This VOICE reveals God's special quickening of a good man's spirit. "To revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." God comes down to the spirit, not to crush it, but to revive it, to give it a new life, to bring out by the sunshine of His presence all its dormant germs, and to make it fruitful in all good works. He gives it a life, over which circumstances, time, and death, have no power.
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
1. It furnishes us with the only satisfactory account of the origin of the universe. Creation is but God's eternal thoughts in shape, His eternal will in action.
2. It shows to us our incapability of pronouncing upon His ways. During our existence here, He is working out a plan that, like Himself, never had a beginning and will never have an end.
3. It enables us to give an eternal freshness to the Bible. Being eternal, what He thought when He inspired men to write the Book He thinks now.
(D. Thomas, . D. D.)
(J. O. Dykes, . D. D.)Isaiah 66:1, 2): —
I. We remark that, FROM ETERNITY, THE RESIDENCE OF GOD HAS ALWAYS CORRESPONDED WITH HIS INFINITE NATURE AND PERFECTIONS. This seems to be implied in the text in three particulars: being eternal, He has inhabited eternity; as the High and Lofty One, He has occupied the throne of supremacy; and His name being Holy, He has dwelt in the high and holy place.
II. IF HE CONDESCEND TO HOLD INTERCOURSE WITH MAN, IT CAN ONLY BE IN HARMONY WITH THE SAME PRINCIPLE. He has not one principle for one world and another principle for another. Select any principle of His conduct, and you will find that, like Himself, it is from everlasting to everlasting; and all this owing to that infinite perfection of His nature which neither requires nor admits of a change.
1. Why is it that He comes forth and gives us this description of Himself? Why, but to show us that, if He condescends to hold any intercourse with us, the terms of that intercourse must be prescribed entirely by Himself. "You judge" (as if He had said) "of what a fellow-creature may expect from you by his tittles; hear My titles"— Jehovah, the High and Lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy. What distinction can you add to them. You estimate a mortal's rank by the remoteness of his ancestry — "I am the First, the unoriginated Being." You judge of a mortal's rank by the mansion he inhabits, and, on occasion, you prepare for his reception accordingly. "I dwell in the high and holy place." You can be awed by the presence of even human worth; what, then, should you feel in the presence of Him whose name is Holy — who, if He looks on iniquity, can only look on it to scorch and wither it up? You think of erecting a temple which shall attract the Majesty of heaven by its splendours, as if you should invite a monarch to descend from his throne by gilding his footstool. On account of His greatness, you would enlarge its dimensions. "But do not I fill heaven and earth?" On account of His grandeur, you would multiply its priests and bedizen them with costly robes. Think of His state and retinue above, where His train filleth the temple, where thousand thousands minister unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stand before Him! On account of His supremacy, you would multiply His sacrifices. "Will I eat the flesh of bulls," saith God, "or drink the blood of goats?" Multiply them as you will, set all Lebanon in a blaze, and offer up all its herds as a burnt-offering, still He can say, "Every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills." Offer up the whole material world, and He could say, "The world is Mine, and the fulness thereof." But because man may have convicted himself of folly in these respects, is he, therefore, to retire mortified and in despair of ever securing the Divine presence? Let us hear what God the Lord will yet say to us. "I dwell., with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit." What is the transition from that height to that depth nothing to Him, that He speaks of it in one sentence — in the same breath? "With him also" — as if it made little or no difference to His greatness whether He dwelt there or here!
2. Having thus humbled Himself, we see the reasonableness of His selecting the humble and the contrite as the objects of His Divine regard. It is only such that are prepared to receive Him. As the infinite and eternal Spirit, He comes to commune with our spirit; but in the case of every class except the humble, He finds the ground already occupied, and He has to stand at the door and knock. As the High and Lofty One, He comes to have His supremacy recognized, to receive us at His footstool; but all except the humble are seated on little thrones of their own, and will not come down to receive Him. As the Being whose name is Holy, He comes to imprint on us the likeness of His own image; but none save the humble and those melted in contrition are in a state to receive the sacred impress. He comes to be honoured, appreciated, adored; but all save the humble are busied in asserting their own little claims — are, in effect, prepared to quarrel with His supremacy, and to pluck at His sceptre. Can we wonder, then, that if He comes to commune with us, His abode should be with the humble? Where should goodness dwell but with gratitude? Where should the fulness of the Creator pour itself forth but into the emptiness of the creature?
3. But will He commune even with the contrite? For here the wonder presents itself, that He should condescend even to this. And what part of His conduct towards us is not marked with condescension? And what part of His condescension is not an abyss of wonder?
III. FROM THIS IT FOLLOWS, THAT NO RELIGIOUS WORSHIP CAN BE ACCEPTABLE TO GOD, EXCEPT AS IT HARMONIZES WITH THE CHARACTER OF GOD. Indeed, if this harmony were not necessary — if the individual or the Church could obtain access to God without such harmony with His character, it could not conduce to their real advantage. That in which the happiness of our spiritual nature consists must be something congenial to that nature, and something which is capable of imparting itself to that nature.
1. If supremacy comes here, He expects to behold subordination, and what is that but humility? Humility does not necessarily and of itself imply a sense of guilt. Angels are among the most humble of His creatures, for they never lose sight of their entire dependence on Him. And the greatest example of excellence which earth ever saw, though unstained by a single pollution, could say, "I am meek and lowly of heart.'
2. Humility is not enough for man. If they who have never sinned are humble, more than humility must be proper for man — there must be contrition also. The text implies this: it intimates that if the High and Holy One comes amongst us, He expects to be received amidst the sighs of penitence and the tears of godly sorrow.
3. But more — if this voice of mercy is to be heard — if He comes amongst us to address us, He expects that we should tremble at His word — that is, that our hearts should vibrate and respond to every accent He utters. But if the very perfection of His nature makes this correspondence necessary, so also do the wants and the well-being of our nature. Everything in creation trembles and responds to the voice of God but the stony heart of man; and the welfare of everything depends on its power thus to respond.
IV. THE SUBJECT INTIMATES THAT ALL HUMAN INSTRUMENTALITY, IN THE SERVICE OF GOD, DEPENDS FOR ITS EFFICIENCY ON THE SAME CONDITION — THAT OF HARMONY WITH THE DIVINE CHARACTER.
(J. Harris, D. D.)Isaiah 66:1, 2): —
I. THE DIVINE MAJESTY. Consider —
1. The grandeur of His state. "Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool," a throne being an emblem of authority and power.
2. HIS attributes.
II. THE DIVINE CONDESCENSION.
1. THE OBJECTS OF HIS regard. The qualities which attract His attention belong to the mind and heart.(1) God dwells not with the wise because of their wisdom — not with the great because of their greatness — not with the rich because of their riches — not with the poor because of their poverty, but with all — whether wise or great, rich or poor-who possess a contrite spirit.(2) Again- those with whom God dwells are the humble. God's grace is at war with pride.(3) Those with whom God dwells cherish a spirit of reverence for His Word. "To that man will I look that trembleth at My Word." There is little doubt that we should tremble at God's word if it were addressed to us by an audible voice. Viewed in whatever light, still the Bible is a wonderful book. But what reverence is due to it as the oracle of truth, as the rule of life, as the lamp which God has kindled to be a light to our path! We reverence this Word when we receive all Scripture as given by inspiration of God, and "thus saith the Lord" settles with us every religious controversy.
2. The expressions of the Divine regard.(1) "To this man will I look," figurative language denoting the interest which God takes in contrite and humble souls, and the complacency with which He regards them.(2) It is added, "With him will I dwell." First of all the question is proposed, "Where is the house that ye will build Me?" My temple is the universe, I inhabit eternity,, I dwell in the high and holy place. "Where is the house that ye will build Me? What a mystery is here, God dwelling by His Spirit in the heart, restoring the reign of holiness, setting up His law, establishing His authority, shedding abroad His gracious influences, filling it with light and peace and love!(3) But He is said to dwell there for a special purpose, "to revive the heart of the contrite ones.' There are many things in life to depress and discourage us — some are cast down by adversities, some are harassed by spiritual doubts, some are suffering from a consciousness of sin; and with all such the High and Lofty One dwells.
(H. J. Gamble.)
I. IN THE DIGNITY OF HIS CHARACTER. We have —
1. His rank as supreme. "The High and Lofty One."
2. His existence as eternal. "That inhabiteth eternity."
3. His nature as unsullied. "Whose name is Holy." And as His name is, so is He.
II. HIS WONDERFUL CONDESCENSION. "With him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit," etc.
1. Permanence. He "dwells" in the high and holy place; it is His chosen, His special, His fixed abode. When it is, therefore, added, "with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit," the same idea is set forth. "If any man love Me," said the Saviour, "he will keep My words; and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
2. Attachment. We may have to do with those for whom we feel no regard; but we would not, if invited, take up our residence with such. When persons dwell together as a matter of free choice, it is evident that there is something to attract them to each other.
4. Consolation. Where He comes, He comes to bless; and how valuable is the blessing which is here specified — "to revive the spirit of the humble," etc. This He does by the quickening and comforting influences of that Divine Spirit which is promised to all them that believe.
III. HIS FATHERLY REBUKES AND CORRECTIONS.
1. Their measure. He whose name is Holy cannot but show His displeasure against sin, whether it be found in the openly rebellious or in His own people. But, in reference to the latter, there are gracious limits within which His righteous anger is restrained. "For I will not contend for ever," etc. (ver. 16).
2. Their cause. "For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth," etc. (ver. 17). It seems that a covetous spirit pervaded the people of that generation at large. Covetousness is an abominable thing in the sight of God.
3. Their final issue. For a time the chastisements were unavailing, but the people were brought at length to a state of penitence. It is therefore said, "I have seen his ways, and will heal him," etc. (ver. 18).
IV. THE OFFERS OF HIS LOVE AND MERCY, "I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord," etc. (ver. 19). The expression "fruit of the lips" sometimes denotes praise, as when the apostle says, By Him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually; that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But while what is here announced might well excite our warmest gratitude, it is probable that the above phrase is used here in a more general signification. The fruit of the lips is what the lips produce, even words; and those which we have now to consider are pre-eminently gracious words. In reference to this proclamation we notice —
1. Its nature. There is a twofold view in which the word "peace" may be regarded. The first is that of good-will, which was the sense in which it was employed in ordinary salutations. But in its more restricted sense it means reconciliation.
2. Its objects. "Peace, peace, to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord." The Jews are described as "a people near unto Him." There are those among ourselves who may be regarded as farther from God and from righteousness than others. To the chief of sinners we are permitted to say, "I bring you good tidings of great joy."
3. Its efficiency. "And I will heal him." I will make the message effectual.
V. HIS FEELINGS TOWARDS HIS INCORRIGIBLE ENEMIES (vers. 20, 21).
(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)1. Eternity is the most distasteful subject to the natural man.
2. Whether ignored or not its importance remains the same.
3. In eternity there will be some marvellous revelations.
4. The nature of your eternity will be decided at the Cross.It is not the number or the heinousness of your sins that will condemn to hell, nor the beauty or strictness of your morality that will bring to heaven. Eternity will be decided by your relation to a crucified Jesus.
(A. G. Brown.)"Eternity," saith the puritan, Charnock, "is a perpetual duration which has neither beginning nor end. Time hath both. Those things we say are in time, that have beginning, grow up by degrees, have succession of parts. Eternity is contrary to time, and is therefore a permanent and immutable state, without any variation. It comprehends in itself all years, all ages, all periods of ages. It never begins! It endures after every duration of time, and never ceaseth. It doth as much outrun time as it went before the beginning of it. Time supposeth something before it, but there can be nothing before eternity; it were not then eternity. Time hath a continual succession; the former time passeth away, and another succeeds, the last year is not this year, nor this year the next. We must conceive of eternity contrary to the notion of time. As the nature of time consists in the succession of parts, so the nature of eternity is an infinite immutable duration. Eternity and time differ as the sea and rivers; the sea never changes place, but the rivers glide along, and are swallowed up in the sea so is time by eternity." A simpler, but perhaps more striking definition, was that given by one of the pupils of the Deaf and Dumb Institution at Paris, who, in answer to the question, "What is eternity?" replied, "The lifetime of the Almighty."
(N. Smyth, D. D.)
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