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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

Isaiah 45



Verse 8



Isaiah 45:8. Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the Lord have created it.

IT is generally thought, that doctrines relating to God’s sovereignty, and to the divine decrees, are chiefly, if not exclusively, dwelt upon by the Apostle Paul. But, if any one read the Old Testament, he will find these doctrines advanced in almost every page. The chapter before us will furnish us with an instance quite in point. God had determined to deliver his people from their Babylonish captivity above two hundred years before they were carried captive, or Babylon itself, as an empire, had any prominent existence in the world: he also named the person by whom it should be effected, almost three hundred years before he was born, and yet there had never been a king of that name; and even specified the means by which he should effect the conquest of Babylon, which was so fortified as to be, humanly speaking, impregnable [Note: ver. 1–4.]: he declared, also, that that person, contrary to all reasonable expectation, should liberate them without fee or reward, and give orders for the rebuilding of their city and temple [Note: ver. 13.]. Who does not see, in all this, Jehovah acting as a Sovereign, according to his own will and pleasure, and directing every thing for his own glory? The Persians, over whom this Cyrus was to reign, had an idea that there were two separate and independent powers, represented under the emblems of light and darkness, who were the authors, the one of all good, and the other of all evil. To these they would be ready to ascribe their failure or success. But God told them, beforehand; “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I, the Lord, do all these things:” and, consequently, they must give all the glory of their success to him. Then he issues his command to the heavens and the earth to concur with him in this great event, and to produce amongst his people those blissful scenes which he had destined them to enjoy.

In this view, the words before us are, not a prayer, but a prophetic annunciation of an event which should assuredly, in due season, be accomplished. And, in our further explanation of them, I will mark,

I. The import of this prophecy—

Its primary reference is to the restoration of the Jews to their own land—

[This is the subject treated of: and to this the words undoubtedly, in the first instance, refer. Certainly, by the decree of Cyrus, the Jewish people would be delivered from most cruel bondage: and, by their re-establishment in their own land, they would, together with an abundance of temporal blessings, again enjoy the blessedness of waiting upon God in the instituted ordinances of his worship. And, inasmuch as this would tend to the advancement of their souls in righteousness and true holiness, it might justify the language by which it was expressed. To the same effect the Prophet Ezekiel speaks: “I will make them, and the places round about my hill, a blessing: and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing. And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase; and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them [Note: Ezekiel 34:26-27.].”

But it is evident that the prophecy includes in it a more important event; and that]

Its ulterior reference is to the establishment of the Messiah’s kingdom—

[Under similar emblems is the Messiah’s kingdom frequently described. It is chiefly characterized by the outpouring of the Spirit upon God’s Church and people, and the consequent production of the fruits of righteousness among them in rich abundance. Remarkable is that declaration of the Prophet Joel: “It shall come to pass, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit [Note: Joel 2:28-29.].” Of the true meaning of those words we can have no doubt; because they were cited by St. Peter on the day of Pentecost, as fulfilled, when he and the rest of the Apostles were enabled by the Spirit to address their audience in the different languages of all the nations to which they belonged [Note: Acts 2:16-18.]. With a sanctifying efficacy also was this effusion of the Spirit accompanied, as Isaiah also had foretold: for “when the Spirit was to be poured out from on high, then was the wilderness to become a fruitful field, and the fruitful field to be counted for a forest [Note: Isaiah 32:15.].” This, I say, was to characterize the Christian ζra, as David also had foretold: “He shall come down like rain upon the grass, as showers that water the earth. In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth [Note: Psalms 72:6-7.].”]

But my more particular object in this discourse is, to point out, not merely the sense of the prophecy, but also,

II. The peculiar beauty of the image under which it is conveyed—

We are no strangers to the benefits arising from the showers which water the earth: and the correspondence between those and the benefits accruing from an outpouring of the Spirit of God is obvious and intelligible to all. You will remember, that our text is a command to the heavens and the earth to perform their respective offices for the renovation of the world. And I wish you particularly to notice,

1. Their mutual dependence, as here intimated—

[Every one knows, that in a season of drought the earth cannot send forth its fruits: it must be watered by the clouds, in order that free scope may be given for the exercise of its vegetative and fructifying powers. In like manner, the clouds, however liberally they may pour forth their stores upon the earth, can produce no fruits, unless they fall upon a fertile soil. On a sandy desert their gifts are wasted, altogether without effect.

I say not that the Spirit of God is equally dependent on the powers of man; for man has no power which he has not first received from God: but in the ordinary course of God’s dealings with mankind there must be a similar exercise of powers on the part of man, to render effectual the gifts of God. However good the seed of the word may be, or however richly it may be watered by the Spirit of God, we see, by experience, that it springs not up when sown by the way-side; and that it then only produces fruit unto perfection, when it is sown in an honest and good heart [Note: Luke 8:15.]. I need not say how barren the heart of man is, it not watered by divine grace. He knows little of himself, who does not feel that “without” constant communications from the Lord Jesus “Christ he can do nothing [Note: John 15:5.].” Yet, at the same time, we must take care to improve the blessings conferred upon us. We must plough up the fallow ground, and harrow in the seed that is cast upon it; and endeavour to take out, from time to time, the weeds which spring up within us, and which, if disregarded, would soon obstruct the growth of the better principles within us. In a word, we must “work out our salvation with fear and trembling, notwithstanding all fruitfulness proceeds from God; yea, and because it is God who giveth us both to will and do of his good pleasure [Note: Philippians 2:12-13.].”]

2. Their united operation, as here described—

[“Behold the heavens dropping down fatness upon the earth, and the skies pouring down righteousness:” Behold, at the same time, “the earth opening” to receive the benefits, and “righteousness and salvation springing up together.” Behold this, I say, in the field of nature; what a change is wrought, almost instantaneously on the face of the earth! Behold it, also, in the field of grace. Behold a place thus visited: how blessed the change that takes place in the ordinances of religion, in the habits of the people, and in the different institutions which immediately spring up for the advancement of the Redeemer’s kingdom in the world! Behold a soul thus highly favoured: formerly it had not a disposition or desire but towards the things of time and sense: God, and all the wonders of redeeming love were out of sight; and eternity had but a slender influence on its decisions. But now the thoughts go forth with devout affection towards heavenly objects: prayer and praise, which formerly were no more than a mere outward form, are the sweet, I had almost said the natural, exercises of the mind. To fulfil the will of God, and to promote his glory i to enjoy his presence and to taste his love; to grow up into his image, and be made meet for his inheritance; these are now the great ends for which the soul desires to live, and the constant object of its pursuit; and all its tempers, dispositions, and habits, are brought into accordance with these new desires. Let any one, looking back upon his former life, compare with it his state since he has received the grace of God; and he will find, that his soul is become, comparatively, “like a well-watered garden;” and that the fruits of righteousness, of which it once was destitute, are springing up continually, to the praise and glory of his God. The union of the two is inseparable: wherever fruitfulness is, there has previously been the grace of God: and wherever the grace of God descends into the soul, there will immediately spring up the fruits of righteousness, as indications and evidences of its power. “Truth will assuredly spring out of the earth, when righteousness looks down from heaven [Note: Psalms 85:11.].”]

3. The true source and origin of all their efficacy—

[In my text it is said, “I the Lord have created it.” In the material world, all is of God, and of God alone. The whole universe combined could not make one shower, or give fertility to a sandy desert: nor can any power but God’s effect the renovation of fallen man. Hence it is said of the regenerate soul, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them [Note: Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 4:24.].” Whatever be the means used by God, the work is his alone. “Paul may plant, and Apollos water; but it is God that gives the increase [Note: 1 Corinthians 3:6-7.].” To him must every thing be traced, as much as the creation itself; even to his will, which ordains it; and to his power, which executes it: so that to him must all the glory be ascribed by every soul, both in this world and the world to come.]

see now, from hence,

1. What a blessing the Gospel is—

[No one needs be told what a blessing showers are to the thirsty earth. Precisely such is the Gospel to the souls of men: “As the rain and the snow come down from above and water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give bread to the eater and seed to the sower; so is the word which proceedeth from God,” when accompanied by the Spirit from on high [Note: Isaiah 55:10-11.]. I would that this were duly understood. Persons form strange notions about the Gospel, as though it were of no use but to produce dissensions in families, and enthusiasm in the soul: but its real and true use, as we may see from what took place at the first publication of it on the day of Pentecost, is to “make glad the wilderness, and to transform a desert into the garden of the Lord [Note: Isaiah 35:1-2.]. Let the soul, that has experienced its effects, say, whether any other principles can equal it in power, or any other fruits bear a comparison with those produced by it? Verily, “it bringeth forth fruit in all the world,” and “is the power of God unto salvation to all them that believe.”]

2. What is to be done, on our part, to render it effectual—

[The earth is said to “open its mouth,” to receive the early and the latter rain: and it puts forth all its powers to make a suitable return. Thus should we do: we should be looking up to God for the gift of his Holy Spirit; and open our very souls to receive his gracious communications; and then exert every faculty for a suitable improvement of the grace given. We are to “be workers together with God.” We are not to be merely passive, in the receipt of his favours; but active, in employing them to the ends for which they are bestowed. What might we not hope for, if all our hearers came hither with such thirsting spirits, and went hence with such a determination to render unto God the fruits which he requires! Be ye in earnest, Brethren; and we shall see more and more, that, “as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to bring forth, so will the Lord God cause righteousness and peace to spring forth amongst us” in richer abundance than we have ever yet been privileged to behold them [Note: Isaiah 61:11.].]

3. To whom we are indebted, if ever it has become effectual for our good—

[I need not say to whom we are indebted, either for the fertilizing showers, or for the fruits produced by them [Note: If this be a Thanksgiving Sermon for Rain, or for a good Harvest, this idea may be a little enlarged.]. Nor need I say how cordially every well-instructed soul will acknowledge his obligations to the Lord, saying, “By the grace of God I am what I am [Note: 1 Corinthians 15:10.].” In ourselves we have no reason to glory over our more unprofitable neighbour; seeing that “it is God alone who has made us to differ from him [Note: 1 Corinthians 4:7.].” But, whilst we give all possible glory to God, from whose free and sovereign grace our blessings have proceeded [Note: James 1:17.], we must so walk as to shew us that “God is with us of a truth; and that all who behold us may acknowledge us to be “a field which the Lord has blessed.”]

Verse 9



Isaiah 45:9. Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker!

GOD is a mighty Sovereign, greatly and exclusively to be feared. To shew that those who were exalted as rivals to Him had no power, he challenged them all to foretell any future event; or, if they could not do that, to acknowledge his supremacy. As for himself, all things were naked and open before him, yea, and were done by him: “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things [Note: ver. 7.].” But, in despite of all the manifestations which he has given of his supremacy, men would still continue to rebel against him: and therefore he warns them of the terrible danger to which they exposed themselves: “Woe to him that striveth with his Maker!”

To elucidate these words, I will point out,

I. The conduct reprobated—

It may be supposed impossible for men to strive with their Maker: but the fact is, that men may do it in a variety of ways:

1. By resisting his will—

[He has made known his will in his written Law — — — But men will not obey it — — — Tell them that God has enjoined this, and forbidden that; and they will spurn at the restraint imposed upon them, and say, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice? I know not the Lord; neither will I obey his voice [Note: Exodus 5:2 and Psalms 12:4.]” — — — And what is this, but downright rebellion? Sure I am, that we should account it so, if we were so treated by our child or our servant: and no doubt God will impute it to us as a deliberate resistance of his will.]

2. By murmuring at his dispensations—

[God acts according to his sovereign will, in the dispensations both of his providence and grace. The rich and the poor owe to him their respective lots; as do also all who are appointed to health or sickness, life or death [Note: Deuteronomy 32:39.]. There is not any trial with which man is visited, but it proceeds from him. But where do we find one who, in a state of trouble, has not been ready to murmur and repine? And what is that, but striving with our Maker? So he construes it [Note: The text.]: and so it will be found in the last day [Note: 1 Corinthians 10:10.]. As to the sovereign exercise of his grace, that is still more offensive to our proud hearts. Though we claim for ourselves a right to dispose of our own property as we please, we refuse that right to him; as if, in benefiting others, he did to us an injury [Note: Romans 9:19-21.]. The very case is stated by St. Paul; who, having instanced, in the case of Pharaoh, and in the destinies of Jacob and of Esau, the uncontrolled sovereignty of God, states the feelings of an ungodly man: “Thou wilt say unto me, Why then doth he find fault? for who hath resisted his will?” To which he indignantly replies, “Nay, but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say unto him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” Here, then, we see indisputably in what light God views all such instances of murmuring and complaint: for, in all circumstances whatever, our only wish should be, “Not my will, but thine, be done.”]

3. By rejecting his Gospel—

[God, in his Gospel, comes and entreats of man to accept of reconciliation with him through the Son of his love — — — But how do men treat this divine message? They reject it utterly; and say in their hearts, respecting the Lord Jesus Christ, “We will not have this man to reign over us.” In the parable of the wedding-feast, “all who were invited began to make excuse” — — — And thus it is with us. Any thing is deemed sufficient to justify our refusal of God’s gracious invitations — — — And from his sentence in reference to them, we know in what light he will regard us and in what way he will deal with us [Note: Luke 14:16-24.] — — —]

The woe denounced against such conduct leads us to consider,

II. The evil of it—

It cannot possibly be painted in too strong colours: for it is,

1. Presumptuous—

[In the words following my text, this is set forth by two very opposite illustrations. Let us conceive a piece of clay, dissatisfied with the form given to it by the potter, rising up against the potter, and accusing him of ignorance or injustice; should we not say, that it was presumptuous in the extreme? Or, let us suppose a child to rise up against his parents; and to ask the one why he did not beget, and the other why she did not bring forth, a more perfect being: should we not think that he arrogated to himself an authority which did not belong to him? Thus, then, it is with all who in any way strive with their Maker: they are altogether out of their place, and, in the whole of their conduct, are guilty of the most unwarrantable presumption.]

2. Foolish—

[Can any one suppose that he shall prevail against his Maker? As well might the clay hope to prevail against the potter, who can see nothing in his work but arrogance and folly. And so God has told us: “The counsel of the Lord, that shall stand; and he will do all his pleasure [Note: Isaiah 46:10,]” — — —]

3. Ruinous—

[Vain, utterly vain, is such a contest as this. And so we are plainly warned. What would be the issue of a contest between briers and thorns and a devouring fire? Such will be the issue of the strife between God and his rebellious creatures: “Who would set briers and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, and burn them up together [Note: Isaiah 27:4.].” That pointed interrogation, “Who hath hardened himself against God, and prospered?” must for ever determine this question; and shew, that to “strive with our Maker” is, to involve ourselves in inevitable and eternal ruin — — —]


1. In a way of indignant proof—

[Who amongst us has not been guilty of the crime here reprobated? Yea, whose life has not been one continued act of rebellion against God! Now, if it were “our Maker” only that had been so treated by us, no words would have been sufficient to declare the enormity of our crime. But our Maker has been our Redeemer also; yea, and has given his own life a ransom for us: yet have we “trodden under foot his blood” by our contemptuous indifference, and even “crucified him afresh” by our continuance in sin. Judge ye, then, what we deserve at God’s hands. And now let me ask, whether ye intend to persist in this conduct? If ye do, I can say nothing but what Paul said to persons of this character, “Your damnation is just [Note: Romans 3:8.]” — — —]

2. In a way of compassionate exhortation—

[The Prophet Jeremiah, having stated the very argument before us, and shewn that God might justly, as a potter, mar the work which had presumed to rise up against him, goes on to observe, that, notwithstanding all our past guilt, God is yet ready to forgive us, if only with penitent and contrite hearts we turn unto him [Note: Jeremiah 18:6-8.]. And happy am I to confirm this blessed sentiment; yea, and to declare, that not one, whatever may have been his guilt in past times, shall ever be cast out, provided he come in the name of Jesus Christ, founding his hope on His all-atoning sacrifice, and His all-prevailing intercession. As God’s servant, then, I now announce to you these blessed tidings; and declare, in God’s name, that “though your sins may have been red as scarlet, they shall be as snow: though they have been as crimson, they shall be as wool [Note: Isaiah 1:18.].” Only cease from strife on your part, and God will be reconciled to you, and be your God, for ever and ever.]

Verse 17



Isaiah 45:17. Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.

AS in the dispensations of God’s providence we behold a mixture of mercy and judgment, so in the records of his grace we see promises and threatenings continually interwoven. Declarations so opposite, standing in immediate contrast with each other, give to each other a double force and energy, more especially when, as in the passage before us, compared with the preceding verse, they are expressed in similar terms. In this view the promise in the text deserves particular attention. In considering it we shall shew,

1. Who they are that are comprehended under the name “Israel”—

We are not to limit this name to the Jews; nor even to comprehend all the Jews under it; since “all are not Israel that are of Israel [Note: Romans 9:6.]:” it includes those,

1. Who worship God—

[This name was originally given to Jacob by God himself on account of his having “wrestled all night” in prayer till he obtained the blessing he desired [Note: Genesis 32:24; Genesis 32:28.]. From him it passed to his natural descendants; but has in all ages more eminently characterized his spiritual seed, who, like him, “worship God in spirit and in truth.” Our Lord, seeing Nathanael, called him an “Israelite indeed;” and, on finding how much Nathanael was surprised by such an appellation from a stranger, assured him that “he had seen him under the fig-tree [Note: John 1:47-48.].” Most probably Nathanael, supposing that no human eye beheld him, had been praying there to God: and our Lord, adverting to this circumstance as well as to his integrity, addressed him by a name that marked his character in both respects. Thus every true Israelite is frequent at the throne of grace; and God, who seeth in secret, will testify of him, In such and such a place I saw thee lifting up thy heart to me, and imploring my blessing with thy whole soul.]

2. Who worship God alone—

[There were some among the Jews who feared the Lord, and yet served other gods [Note: 2 Kings 17:33 and Zephaniah 1:5.]: so amongst ourselves there are many who would be thought to fear God, while they are endeavouring to reconcile the inconsistent services of God and mammon. But Israel stand directly opposed to such characters in the context [Note: ver. 16.]: they not only will not make or worship idols of wood or stone, but they will harbour no idols in the heart: they will not provoke the Lord to jealousy by any hidden abominations [Note: Ezekiel 14:3.], but labour to be “Israelites indeed, in whom is no guile.”]

Now since it is promised to such persons that they shall be saved, it will be proper to inquire,

II. In what way they shall be saved—

The Lord Jesus Christ is the person mentioned in the text as the author of their salvation [Note: Compare ver. 23. with Romans 14:10-11.]: and they must be saved,

1. By the merit of his blood—

[Whatever integrity of heart any man may possess, or however fervent ho may be in his supplications before God, he must be saved in the same way as any other sinner, and enter in at the same door with publicans and harlots. His very best services are polluted; and he needs to be cleansed from “the iniquity of his holy things” as much as from the vilest transgressions. Nor is there any other fountain opened for sin but that which was opened upon Mount Calvary: nothing but the blood of Christ can ever cleanse from sin: the holiest man that ever lived must be “accepted in the beloved;” “nor is there salvation for him in any other:” even Paul himself, notwithstanding all his legal and evangelical obedience, desired to be “found in Christ, not having his own righteousness, but the righteousness which is of God by faith in Christ [Note: Philippians 3:9.].” And “in the same adorable Lord must all the seed of Israel be justified, and must glory [Note: ver. 25.].”]

2. By the efficacy of his grace—

[It is not by any efforts of their own that Israel are enabled to differ from others: “they are saved, not by the exercise of created power, but in the Lord their God [Note: Hosea 1:7.].” They must all adopt the same humiliating confession, “In the Lord have I righteousness and strength [Note: ver. 24.].” Are they strong? it is in the Lord, and in the power of his might [Note: Ephesians 6:10.]: do they gain the victory? they must thank God for giving it them through Jesus Christ our Lord [Note: Romans 7:25.]. “In him all their fresh springs are found;” “out of his fulness they receive continually grace for grace:” and if this lock were shorn, they would instantly become weak as other men [Note: Alluding to Judges 16:17.]. Being fully assured of this, they evince that they are the true Israel, by worshipping God in the spirit, rejoicing in Christ Jesus, and having no confidence in the flesh [Note: Philippians 3:3.].]

For their abundant consolation God declares,

III. The extent and certainty of their salvation—

As to the certainty of their salvation, no words can more fully express it, than those which are now before us—

[God absolutely declares that “Israel shall be saved:” lest we should limit our expectations to some temporal benefit, he assures us that the salvation he will afford them, shall be “everlasting:” and lest we should still be slow of heart to believe, he repents his assertion in terms as strong and energetic as language can afford, or imagination can conceive. The same truth is confirmed in every page of the sacred volume, and that too in the richest variety of expression, in order more effectually to engage our minds and establish our faith. And has God spoken all these things merely to deceive us? “Has he said, and will he not do it; has he spoken, and will he not make it good?” Let this then be received as an infallible truth, that whatever may become of others, “Israel shall be saved;” nor shall any difficulties, any dangers, or all the conspiracies of earth and hell, ever make void this promise in any single instance to all eternity [Note: John 10:28-29.].]

Nor can any thing be added to enhance the greatness of their salvation—

[It shall be so perfect, that there shall be nothing wanting to complete it. Their “sins shall all be cast into the very depths of the sea.” However high their expectations may be raised, they shall “never be ashamed;” nor, however strong their confidence may be, shall they “ever be confounded.” They shall appear before God with holy boldness: they may even now, as they shall also at the bar of judgment, adopt the triumphant language of the apostle, “Who is he that shall lay any thing to my charge? It is God that justifieth: who is he that shall condemn? It is Christ that died.” Yea, they may lay claim to all that God himself can give in time and eternity; and, neither in time nor in eternity, shall they be disappointed of their hope. Their felicity shall begin the very instant they believe in Christ; and shall be coeval with their own existence.]


1. The idolatrous worldling—

[It is not only “the maker of idols,” but he who “setteth up idols in his heart,” that is an idolater in the sight of God: if we “love and serve the creature more than the Creator,” we are as truly idolaters, as if we bowed down to stocks and stones; and do not the consciences of many testify, that their hearts are incomparably more set upon the world, than on God? If they compare their devotion before God with their zeal about earthly things, may they not see that they differ widely from from the true Israel? Shall we then say to them, that they shall be “saved with an everlasting salvation? Should we not speak more truly if we were even to reverse the terms, and declare the judgments of God against them? Yes, indeed; for though they now will scarcely admit a doubt or a fear respecting their eternal state, God has warned them, in the very words before the text, that “they shall be ashamed and confounded, all of them; they shall all go to confusion together.” But is there no way for their escape? Blessed be God, there is: if they believe in Christ, they shall yet be saved; for “there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus [Note: ver. 22.]:” and his command to them is, “Look unto me and be ye saved [Note: Romans 8:1.].” Let them but prostrate themselves at the foot of his cross, seeking redemption through his precious blood, and they shall yet become monuments of his pardoning mercy, and his sanctifying grace.]

2. The true Israelite—

[“Happy art thou, O Israel, O people saved by the Lord [Note: Deuteronomy 33:29.]!” What a mercy is it to have God himself saying respecting you, Israel shall be saved! Possibly you may meet with many troubles in your way to glory; but you need not regard them, as long as you have the promise that you shall survive them all. Perhaps, like Paul and those who were with him in the ship, you may be so tossed with tempest, as to be brought almost to despair: but God had promised that not a hair of their head should perish; and though they suffered shipwreck, yet was his word fulfilled to them: for all of them, some on boards and others on broken pieces of the ship, got safe to shore [Note: Acts 27:34; Acts 27:44.]. Thus shall it be with you also. You may, as thousands hare before you, suffer the loss of all earthly comforts; but God’s word shall not be broken: he has promised; and he is not only able, but determined to perform. Look forward then with comfort to death and judgment, and know that that day which shall be to others the beginning of sorrows, shall be to you the commencement of eternal joy.]

Verse 21



Isaiah 45:21. There is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is mine beside me.

TO us, who have been habituated from our infancy to hear of none but the true and living God, it seems incredible that man should be so stupid and selfish as to bow down to stocks and stones, and to worship them as gods. But not only is mankind in general prone to idolatry, but even the people of God themselves, who had seen all the wonders wrought by Jehovah in Egypt, were ever ready to turn aside from him, and to worship the work of their own hands. Hence we see so much in the prophetic writings on the subject of idolatry, and in vindication of Jehovah as the only true God. In the passage before us, God has appealed to the evidence which he had given of his exclusive right to the regards of his people; in that he had foretold future events, which came to pass agreeably to his predictions; whilst none of the gods of the heathen had ever pretended to any such power. And in the words before us he maintains his own supremacy, by a further statement of his character as a just God and a Saviour.

Let us consider,

I. The character of God as here stated—

We shall consider it,

1. As contrasted with that of all the heathen deities—

[Whatever their poor deluded votaries might imagine, it was not in their power either to inflict or to avert evil. This is put in a striking point of view by the Prophet Jeremiah: “The customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with an axe. They deck it with silver and with gold: they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm-tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them: for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to good [Note: Jeremiah 10:3-5.].”

But Jehovah is alike able either to save or to destroy. See whether his justice be not marked in his conduct towards the fallen angels, whom he expelled from heaven for their sin; and towards the antediluvian world, which, with the exception of a single family of eight persons, he destroyed with an universal deluge. See what is his indignation against sin, as marked in the judgments executed on Sodom and Gomorrha. See it, also, as demonstrated in the punishment of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, or of Ananias and Sapphira. But the instances are too numerous to be mentioned. No one can have read the Scriptures of truth, and not see that God is just in punishing iniquity; and that to those who live in sin, he is, and will be, “a consuming fire [Note: Deuteronomy 4:24 and Hebrews 12:29.].”

On the other hand, he is a Saviour also to all who put their trust in him. Behold his interposition in behalf of Noah and his family, whilst all the rest of the world were destroyed. Or see the deliverance he vouchsafed to his people from their bondage in Egypt; or how he carried them through the wilderness, and established them in the land of Canaan. Or view the miracles wrought by our blessed Saviour and his Apostles; and then say, whether there be any bounds to Jehovah’s mercy or power.

But the comparison between Jehovah and the heathen deities would be utterly absurd, if it were not that the more than brutish stupidity of mankind called fur such illustrations, for the conviction of their minds.]

2. As shining forth in his own proper and harmonious perfections—

[It is in the union of these two perfections of justice and mercy that the glory of the Godhead is most fully seen. We must look at justice as exercised in a way of mercy, and mercy as displayed in a way of justice, if we would at all appreciate aright the character of our God. He, of his own unbounded love and mercy, determined to save our fallen race. But would he leave sin unpunished? No: he would punish sin, and yet save the sinner: and, in order to that, he gave his only-begotten Son to be the substitute of the sinful man, that in him sin might receive its just recompence, and by him a righteousness might be wrought out for man; that so God might be just, and yet the justifier of all who should believe in him. By this his justice shines forth more awfully than if he had executed vengeance on the whole human race; and his mercy more richly than if he had pardoned all without such an atonement offered for them. The gift of his only-begotten Son reflects a light on these perfections which can be seen in nothing else; and which infinitely exceeds any that can be found in a separate and disjointed view of them, as exercised towards our sinful world — — —]

Let us then proceed to contemplate,

II. The regard due to him under that character—

This part of my subject is altogether inexhaustible. But I will confine myself to the mention of three effects, which such a view of the Deity as is here exhibited should produce:

1. Fear—

As for the Heathen deities, there is not one that merits the smallest possible regard. But who will not fear the Lord our God? This is the very improvement which the Prophet Jeremiah suggests, on instituting the comparison between the two: “Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O Lord: thou art great; and thy name is great in might: who would not fear thee, O king of nations [Note: Jeremiah 10:6-7.]?” The same reflection is made by all the redeemed in heaven, whilst singing the song of Moses and the Lamb: “They sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy [Note: Revelation 15:3-4.].” It is of immense importance, Brethren, that you should duly estimate this thought. For many, from conceiving of God as “a Saviour,” forget that he is “just.” But indeed he is a holy God, that “cannot look upon iniquity without the utmost abhorrence of it [Note: Habakkuk 1:13.];” and he has warned us, that, notwithstanding his great delight in mercy, “he will not clear the guilty [Note: Exodus 34:6-7.].” No indeed; “upon the wicked he will rain snares, fire, and brimstone, and an horrible tempest; this shall be the portion of their cup [Note: Psalms 9:17; Psalms 11:6.].” I say, then, to every one of you, “Fear Him who can destroy both body and soul in hell: yea, I say unto you, Fear Him [Note: Matthew 10:28.].”]

2. Trust—

[As persons, previous to the awakening of their souls, are ready to think of God as all mercy; so, after that they begin to be convinced of sin, they are prone to run to a contrary extreme, and to think of God as though he were averse to mercy, and intent only on the vindication of his injured Majesty. But know, Brethren, that mercy is that in which he chiefly delights: “judgment is his strange act,” to which he never proceeds, till he has exercised forbearance towards us to the uttermost. Call to mind his exceeding great and precious promises; and then say, whether any sinner in the universe has reason to despond, provided only he desire mercy at the hands of God? Or rather, consider what God has done in giving his only dear Son to die for you: would he have done this, if he were backward to the exercise of mercy? Carry all your sins to him, without questioning for one moment his willingness to pardon; and know, that “if you go to him in the name of his dear Son, he will in no wise cast you out [Note: John 6:37.].”]

3. Obedience—

[This is due to him from you, as creatures: What then is it, as redeemed sinners? I will venture to ask, Is there one of you who believes himself obnoxious to his wrath, and yet a partaker of his grace, that would even wish to be released from his obligations to obey him? No: I am sure that every one who views God in his complex character, as “a just God, and yet a Saviour,” will desire to honour God with all his faculties and powers; and will consecrate himself to God as a living sacrifice, under a full conviction, that if this entire surrender of himself to God be a necessary, it is no less “a reasonable and delightful, service [Note: Romans 12:1.].” It is impossible to have any just views of “the love of Christ, and not be constrained by it to live altogether to His praise and glory [Note: 2 Corinthians 5:14-15.].”]

Verse 22



Isaiah 45:22. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.

MANY consider the Scriptures merely as a history of past events, and imagine that the declarations contained in it are to be confined to those persons, for whose immediate use they were written. But such an idea reduces the sacred volume to a dead letter, calculated indeed to amuse the curious, but not to awaken the secure, or comfort the feeble-minded. But there are numberless passages which, though originally applied to individual persons, are quoted by the Apostles as applicable to mankind in every age. Doubtless then, the invitation before us, though primarily addressed to idolaters, is intended to be sounded forth throughout all the world. Let us then consider,

I. The invitation—

The person, who is here speaking, is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ; since the very words following the text are quoted by an inspired Apostle as issuing from his mouth [Note: Romans 14:10-11.]. Here,

1. He directs us what means to use in order to salvation—

[”Looking to Jesus” is a figurative expression of the same import with many others used in Scripture, such as coming to him, fleeing to him, &c. Its meaning is obvious, especially when connected with salvation as the end to be attained by it. One immediately perceives the state of the cripple’s mind, of whom it is said, that he gave heed to Peter and John, expecting to receive something of them [Note: Acts 3:4-5.]; nor can we be at any loss to ascertain the meaning of looking to Christ for salvation: it must import an humble sense of our lost estate, an ardent desire after his proffered mercy, and a persuasion that he is able to impart the blessings we stand in need of. Without such views, such desires, and such a faith, we should no more look to him for salvation than a person in health would go to a physician, or make use of his prescriptions [Note: Mark 2:17.] — — — If any thing can clearly exemplify the nature of this duty, it is the state of the wounded Israelites when they looked to the brazen serpent [Note: Numbers 21:7-9.]: they felt their wounds, they knew them to be incurable by human art, they were convinced that they must quickly perish if they did not use the appointed means, and they turned their eyes towards it in hope of experiencing the promised recovery. And exactly thus must we look to Christ, if we would be made partakers of his salvation [Note: John 3:14-15.].]

2. He promises that we shall not use those means in vain—

[His words undoubtedly imply a promise, though they are not delivered in the form of one. They consider all as obnoxious to the wrath of God. They are not addressed to sinners of a peculiarly atrocious character, but to “all the ends of the earth.” But while they thus insinuate that none can save themselves, they offer salvation to all without any distinction of character, provided they follow the direction given them. Such shall surely be saved from wrath: their sins, however great and manifold, shall be forgiven them. The infection that pervades their souls shall be healed. Yea, more, the favour of God, the beauty of holiness, and all the glory of heaven shall be imparted to them. The salvation here spoken of is justly called, “The salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory:” and in the name of Christ we can promise it to all who comply with the terms on which it is offered to them.]

Alluring as this invitation is, it derives additional importance from,

II. The arguments with which it is enforced—

That he may prevail on an ignorant and careless world, our blessed Lord reminds them of,

1. His all sufficiency to save them—

[That Christ is God, is a truth on which our present and eternal happiness depends; nor is there wanting all that evidence for it which the most scrupulous or doubtful mind can require [Note: John 1:1. Romans 9:5.]. Indeed, if he were a mere creature, however exalted, we might well question his authority to issue such a command, or his ability to impart the promised blessing; but his Godhead at once enforces both his direction and his promise: ‘“Look unto me; for I am God,” and enjoin you to do so at the peril of your souls. “You shall be saved; for I am God,” and am therefore able to save you to the very uttermost. Were I a creature, you might be afraid to trust in me: but is not the blood of an incarnate God sufficient to make atonement for your sin? Is not the arm of God able to subdue your enemies before you? Or is there any “variableness or shadow of turning in me,” that you should question my fidelity? Am I not “the God that changeth not?” Know then that while my Godhead is your warrant fur looking to me, it is my pledge to you for the performance of my promise.’ My Brethren, can you resist the force of such an argument?]

2. The insufficiency of every other hope—

[We are prone to look to every other being for help rather than to Christ; but he plainly warns us that “there is none else.” Could we obtain salvation by any other means, the force of his invitation would be enervated: however the way prescribed by him might deserve a preference, we should feel ourselves, as it were, at liberty to disregard it. But in vain will be our utmost exertions, if we endeavour to save ourselves by any methods of man’s device. We are “shut up unto the faith that is revealed.” We may as well attempt to create an universe as to atone for sin, or to fulfil the strict commands of God’s law. There is no remedy but that proposed, of looking unto Jesus: “there is no other name given under heaven whereby we can be saved, but the name of Jesus Christ.” Observe then the weight of this argument also: it is as though Jesus had said, “To whom will ye go? I, and I alone, have the words of eternal life [Note: John 6:68.]: if you follow after righteousness in any other way, you will never attain unto it [Note: Romans 9:31-32.]: you have but one alternative, to look unto me, or to perish for ever.” The Lord grant that, if we be not drawn by love, we may at least be impelled by necessity, to accept his invitation!]

We would yet further address this invitation to,

1. Those who are careless and indifferent about salvation—

[How lamentable is it, that Jesus should thus invite sinners, and they be altogether inattentive to his voice! Ye careless and supine, consider Jesus as addressing you upon his first entrance into the world: ‘Look unto me, and see how I have humbled myself for you: though I am God, yet have I taken upon myself your nature, that I might save your souls: I am come from heaven to seek and save you; O let not such condescension and love be lost upon you.’ Think again that ye hear him speaking to you from the garden of Gethsemane: ‘Look unto me, and behold how I am overcome with agony, and bathed from head to foot in a bloody sweat: this, sinners, is for you; it is your guilt that weighs me down, and your curse that I am now enduring: reflect a moment on the evil and danger of your state; for “if these things be done in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” if sin has so overwhelmed your incarnate God, how will ye endure the punishment of it to all eternity?’ Suppose him yet again calling to you from the cross; ‘Look unto me, ye perishing world; see what a multitude of sorrows encompass me; and how my heart in the midst of me is even like melting wax, so utterly is it consumed by the fire of divine wrath: see, how I am forsaken by my own Father, and am shortly to expire in the midst of all this shame and torment: but it is for you; to save you from everlasting death: and I shall be satisfied with all the travail of my soul, if only you will look to me for salvation: let me but have the joy of saving you, and I am content: but O, let me not pay the price of your souls for nought.’ Once more; view him seated on his throne of glory, and consider him as addressing you from thence; ‘Look unto me; it is for your sakes that I am exalted to this throne; it is that I may impart that salvation to you, which once I purchased for you: as once I governed every thing in my divine nature, so now in my mediatorial capacity is all power committed to me, that I may raise you also to a participation of my own glory: and all that I require of you is, to look unto me: O sinners, turn not a deaf ear to my entreaties; but let me save you with an everlasting salvation.’

Are there now any so obdurate as to disregard his voice? Say, beloved, is salvation so slight a matter, that ye are indifferent whether ye ever obtain it or not? Or are the terms, on which it is offered, so grievous, that ye cannot bring your minds to submit to them? What easier terms can God himself propose than those, “Look and be saved?” O delay no longer, but say with the prophet, “I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me [Note: Micah 7:7.].”]

2. Those who, through a sense of their unworthiness, dare not accept the salvation offered them—

[Persons, who are deeply convinced of their guilt and misery, are apt to think themselves too unworthy to be the objects of divine mercy; and to exclude themselves from the number of those who are invited: ‘Can it be true,’ say they, ‘that Jesus speaks to me: and that I have only to look unto him in order to ensure my everlasting salvation? Surely this invitation cannot be for such a wretch as I am: gladly would I accept it, if I dared; but I shall be only as a dog snatching at “the children’s bread.’” But, Beloved, why should any of you exclude yourselves? Does not Jesus address himself to sinners of every description, even to “all the ends of the earth?” And did you ever hear of one whom he rejected? If none ever applied to him in vain for the healing of their bodies, shall any look to him in vain for the saving of their souls? When he gave this invitation, was he not aware how unworthy you were? Did he not know the extent and efficacy of his own atonement? Did he not consider whether there was any thing in your case that was too hard for him to surmount; or did he issue this invitation only to mock and disappoint you? Let it be granted, you have some reason to doubt his power or his willingness to save you: yet, at least, put him to the trial, and see whether he will fulfil his word or not. Of this you are sure, that, if he cannot save, no one else can; and that, if he will not, you will, at least, lose nothing by accepting his invitation. But you need not fear; he is God; and “his mercy as far exceeds your sins, as the heavens are higher than the earth.” Put away then your desponding thoughts, and “encourage yourselves in the Lord your God.” Thus shall you be numbered with his redeemed; and spend eternity in singing, “Salvation to God and to the Lamb.”]

Verses 23-25



Isaiah 45:23-25. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Surely, shall one say, In the Lord have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men comet and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.

TO those who know the infinite importance of the doctrine of the divinity of Christ, it is delightful to see the irresistible evidence of it in the Old Testament as well as in the New. Who is it that in the two preceding verses says, “I am the Lord, I am God, a just God and a Saviour; there is no God else beside me, there is none beside me, there is none else?” Is this a creature? Who is this that, in the text, presumes to swear by himself; that arrogates to himself universal dominion; and that so frequently appropriates to himself the incommunicable name, Jehovah? Is this a creature? Who is it that can fulfil the promises here made to his friends, or execute the judgments here denounced against his enemies? Is he a mere creature? No person that is not blinded by prejudice, or warped by controversy, can doubt one moment, but that it is the supreme God, who is speaking throughout the whole passage: yet this very passage does St. Paul expressly apply to Christ, affirming that it was a prediction of his final victory, and of the appearance of the whole human race at his tribunal [Note: Romans 14:10-11.].

For the further elucidation of these solemn words we shall consider,

I. The subject-matter of the oath—

To comprehend this aright, we should notice particularly those very opposite circumstances which were appointed to take place, before the predictions in the text were to receive their accomplishment. Christ was to be insulted by his whole nation; and his claims of Messiahship were to be made the subject of profane ridicule: he was not only to be rejected, but to be crucified as a malefactor, and to die as one unable to save himself: his enemies were to enjoy a momentary triumph; and his followers to be disappointed, dejected, and confounded. But, that these things should not be a stumbling-block to any, it was here foretold that all these circumstances should be speedily reversed. In this view, the oath relates to four things:

1. The exaltation of Christ—

[Christ, as King of kings, and Lord of lords, had a right to universal empire: every creature was bound to render him an unlimited and unreserved obedience. But it was foreseen that, instead of submitting to him, his creatures would rise up in rebellion against him, and cry out with one voice, “We will not have this man to reign over us.” Christ, however, laughed them to scorn; and told them by his prophet, many hundred years before, that every knee should bow to him, and every tongue take an oath of allegiance to him as the only sovereign of the universe; at least, if they did not do this willingly, as an expression of their unfeigned subjection, they should do it, in effect, against their will, by suffering the punishment due to their rebellion.]

2. The advancement of his kingdom—

[While in the world, he was to be considered as vile, yea, as the vilest of mankind; and to appear weak as other men: but in due time he was to be regarded, not only as righteous and powerful, but as the only source of righteousness and strength to all his creatures. In themselves, all are “ungodly and without strength:” feeling therefore their guilt and helplessness they are to “come to him,” each saying for himself, and each animating others to say, “In the Lord have I righteousness and strength.”]

3. The confusion of his enemies—

[Notwithstanding his unspotted innocence, and unbounded kindness, he was to be an object of utter abhorrence to his whole nation. But their triumph over him was to be of short duration: the time was soon to come, when they should “see him whom they had pierced, and mourn.” Their violence was soon to be recompensed upon their own heads, unless by previous repentance and faith in his blood they obtained the remission of their sins. At all events, they should be “ashamed,” whether penitent and pardoned, or impenitent and condemned. They should either be made to acknowledge with Paul, that they had been “blasphemers, injurious, persecutors, and the very chief of sinners, or to confess the justice of that sentence that consigned them over to everlasting misery.]

4. The salvation of his people—

[His enemies are the seed of profane Esau; but his friends are “the seed of Israel,” whose prayers prevailed with God, and whose example they imitate. These were for a time to be as men disappointed of their hopes; but, ere long, their expectations, founded on the word of Christ, were to be abundantly “justified” in the sight of men; and their persons too were to be “justified” in the sight of God; so that both before God and man they should have reason to glory in the name of Jesus. None of them should be left in their forlorn condition; but “all,” all without exception, be made to triumph in him as the Rock of their salvation.]

Such was the exaltation, and such the consequences of it to himself, to his enemies, and to his believing people, which Christ so long before predicted with a solemn oath: in confirmation of which we proceed to state,

II. The certainty of its accomplishment—

If God had simply asserted these things, it could not fail but that they must come to pass; for, “he is not a man that he should lie, or the son of man that he should repent.” But for our fuller conviction and assurance, he has sworn; and “because he could swear by no greater, he has sworn by himself:” his word is gone forth in righteousness and truth, nor shall it “return,” till every jot and tittle of it be fulfilled. But,

1. It has already been accomplished in part—

[At the hour of his death, his enemies thought that they had gained their end. He, whom they had arrayed in mock majesty, and crowned with a chaplet of thorns, and before whom they had bowed the knee in derision, crying, Hail, King of the Jews! had expired on the accursed tree, an object of universal execration and abhorrence: and his followers were scattered as sheep that have no shepherd. The leader being destroyed, it seemed as if this infant sect, like others that had preceded it, were crushed, and brought to nought. It only remained, that Jesus should be proved an impostor, by watching his tomb for three days; and then their victory would be complete. But in vain were the stone, the seal, the watch: at the appointed hour he rose triumphant; and the affrighted guards fled to relate the wonderful event. Now began his exaltation, which speedily reversed the scenes that had been exhibited. His enemies already stood confounded; and propagated an absurd falsehood to conceal their shame. The hopes of his disconsolate people were revived by many infallible proofs of his resurrection. They conversed and ate with him, and beheld him in the very act of ascending into heaven. It was but a few days afterwards, when, according to his promise, he sent down the Holy Ghost, and thereby completed the confusion of his enemies, and the triumph of his friends. Instantly no less that three thousand of his most inveterate enemies “bowed the knee to him” and “took, as it were, an oath” of allegiance to him as their rightful sovereign; though they had just before seen him “crucified through weakness,” and treated as the most infamous of malefactors, they “came to him” that they might obtain “righteousness and strength.” What confusion now seized the rulers, who still retained their enmity against him! All their efforts were in vain: the more fierce their opposition was, the more did the word prevail: so that in a little time, not Jerusalem only, but all Judea, yea the whole Roman empire, was filled with converts to the cause of Christ. Now the disciples triumphed in their turn: and from that time myriads in every place have been “justified by his blood,” and have “gloried” in his salvation.]

2. It shall be yet more fully accomplished at the day of judgment—

[It is in reference to this period in particular that the Apostle cites the passage before us [Note: Romans 14:11.]: and then indeed will it be verified to the uttermost. The submission of his people will be more entire, their acknowledgments more grateful, and their glorying more ecstatic, than they could be in this world; while the subjugation of his enemies, and their confusion before him will be complete. When he shall say, as to those of old, ‘Many good works did I for you, for which of them did ye hate me? for you I left my glory, and veiled myself in human flesh; for you I sojourned upon earth, and died upon the cross; for you I sent my messengers to beseech you in my name to accept of mercy: for which of these things was I a stumbling-block unto you 2’ how will they hang down their heads with shame! Eloquent as they now are in vindication of themselves, they will not then have one word to answer. Thus shall it be both to the friends and enemies of Christ: as sure as there is a God in heaven, possessed of faithfulness and power to fulfil his word, so sure shall not one jot or tittle of it ever fail of its accomplishment.]


1. For conviction—

[Nothing surely can be more calculated to awaken the secure than this solemn oath of Jehovah. Methinks the Deity, to fix our attention and obtain belief, stands forth before the assembled universe, and, with his hand lifted up to heaven [Note: Alluding to Daniel 12:7.], swears, “As sure as I am God, thus and thus shall it be with my friends and with my enemies.” Must not then sinners be more deaf than adders, and more obdurate than rocks, if they do not hear, and relent, at the voice of their God? O that men would no longer trifle with their eternal interests! We may argue as we please against the word of God; but we cannot invalidate its tremendous declarations. Let us then believe and tremble, yea, “believe, and obey the Gospel.”]

2. For consolation—

[God, in his oath, consults more immediately the comfort of his people [Note: Hebrews 6:17-18.]. They are, alas! too backward to believe his word; and therefore he confirms it with an oath. Let every subject then of the Redeemer’s kingdom rejoice: let their confidence in him both for righteousness and strength be greatly increased: let them never doubt, but that his enemies and their enemies, shall soon become his footstool: let them know, that they are justified from all their sins: and let them glory in him as their God and portion. Difficulties they may, they must, expect; but the word of God shall not be frustrated: “the counsel of the Lord shall stand; and he will do all his pleasure.” Let them only rest on the oath of God, and they shall experience its accomplishment to all eternity.]


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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.

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