1. The Loathsome Replacing Finery. “And it shall come to pass (that) instead of spicy odor there shall be rottenness; and instead of a girdle (apron, Gen. 3:7), a rope; and instead of the work of turned work (artificial curls?), baldness; and instead of an embroidered tuxedo, a girdle of sacking, a branding instead of (female) beauty” (Heb. 3:24). “It is evident that the country here described abounds in aromatic herbs; and there is no reason to doubt that in pleasant smells, as well as in other matters, they were luxurious. We see that those nations which are farthest removed from the east are not prevented either by distance or by expense from indulging in that kind of luxury. What may be expected to happen in those places where they are abundant? That they will excite lust and promote luxury is beyond all doubt. He means, therefore, that ointments and sweet smells were abused by them in a variety of ways; for the sinful desires of men are ingenious in their contrivances, and can never be satisfied.” So wrote John Calvin on this text. All the luxurious feminine finery the women of Zion loved so much would be tom from their-bodies, stripping them naked. Instead of their gold, silver and spangled pectoral and pelvic girdles, they would have nothing but a rope; instead of simulated curls, baldness; instead of silk formal wear, sackcloth.
2. Charmers With No Men to Charm. “Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy might in the war”‘ (v. 25, Heb.). Not only would the women be robbed of their jewelry, their wardrobes, cosmetics and toiletries, but worst of all, their men. Jeremiah laments this terrible calamity: “the young and the old lie on the ground in the streets; my virgins and my young men are fallen by the sword. Thou hast slain them in the day of Thine anger; Thou hast killed and not pitied” (Lam. 2:21). “Thy might shall fall in the war.” This idea of a nation’s might being destroyed is brought out also by Jeremiah at the time of the beginning of Zedekiah’s reign: “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Look! I will break the bow of Elam, the main element of their strength (might)'” (Jer. 49:35, Berkeley). The Lord would disable and wreck their “atomic bomb.”
“And her gates shall groan and mourn, and she shall sit desolate on the ground” (v. 26). The Lord had warned that the heathen destroyer would level them desolate to the ground. “O daughter of My people, gird thee with sackcloth, and wallow in ashes; make thee mourning as for an only son, most bitter lamentation; for the spoiler shall suddenly come upon us” (Jer. 6:26). When it happened, Jeremiah lamented it. “The elders of the daughter of Zion sit on the ground and are silent (dumb with grief); they have thrown dust upon their heads; they have girded themselves with sackcloth. The virgins of Israel hang their heads to the ground” (Lam. 2:10).
“And in that day, seven women shall fasten upon one man, saying, ‘Our bread we will eat, and our raiment we will wear; only let thy name be called upon us. Take away our reproach.'” (Heb. 4:1). The daughters of Zion thought themselves the greatest of wives because they were married to men of Judah. But now so devastating will be the destruction that there will be but one man for every seven women. According to the Word of God the husband must provide for and support his wife, “her food, her clothing and her marriage rights” (Ex. 21:10). But the women, too, would agree to support themselves with food and clothing—their own living—to possess the married name and state.
PROMISE OF THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST Isaiah 4:2-6
1. The Future Messiah “In that day the Branch (Offspring) of Jehovah shall be for beauty and for glory, and the fruit of the earth for majestic grandeur, and be beauty for the escaped of Israel” (Heb. 4:2). After the prediction of such terrible judgments and calamities just described, the Lord comforts the faithful of His people with the covenant promise that the tabernacle of God shall be with men. A new Church and its Head shall arise and be kept safe. This promise is not made to all, but to the remnant, the escaped of Israel. “In that day shall the Lord of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of His people” (Is. 28:5). “In that day” is a day which occurs in the beginning of “the last 1.days” (Is. 2:2), starting with the birth of Christ, and continuing to the destruction of Jerusalem and on down to this day, this dispensation to its end. This day then points to a person, the Messiah, as the following passages prove beyond all doubt. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth” (Jer. 23:5). “In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land” (Jer. 33:15). “Behold, I will bring forth My Servant the BRANCH” (Zech. 3:8). “Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and He shall grow up out of His place, and He shall build the temple of, the Lord” (Zech. 6:12). He comes from Jehovah, so is of divine origin, but also is the fruit of the earth, since He was born in Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2), to grow up as a tender plant and as a root out of a dry ground (Is. 53:2), a fulfillment of “Let the earth open and . . . bring forth salvation” (Is. 45:8). So here is both His deity, in the Branch of Jehovah, and His humanity through the virgin birth, in “the fruit of the earth.” He shall be the Beauty, the Glory, and the majestic grandeur of Zion. “The sun shall be no more thy light by day: neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee; but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory” (Is. 60:19). How this shall be Jeremiah beautifully explains in his thirty-third chapter (Jer. 33:6-9, 11-12). He especially became glory when He arose from the dead, ascended to heaven and sat exalted at the right hand of God. He will be glorious when He appears to come the second time in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him to sit upon the throne of His glory (Matt. 25:31).
“And to be beauty for the escaped of Israel,” “not beautiful and glorious, excellent and comely in the view of all men; only them that believe, who have seen His glory (John 12:41, RCH), and have tasted that He is gracious. These are the remnant according to the election of grace, the preserved of Israel, the chosen of God and precious, who were saved from that untoward generation, the Jews, and escaped the destruction of Jerusalem, and were saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation.”—John Gill. Of them the Lord further says, “Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated . . . I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations” (Isa. 60:15).
2. The Future Church. “And it shall be (that) the one left in Zion and the one left in Jerusalem shall be called holy to Him (Rev. 21:27), all the ones written to the life (lives) in (the New) Jerusalem” (Heb. 4:3), or, “and it shall occur,” and when it does, it will be pure grace that the remnant of grace in Jerusalem shall be called holy. Also they shall become holy: “and to make thee high above all nations which He hath made, in praise and in name, and in honor; and that thou mayest be an holy people unto the Lord thy God, as He hath spoken” (Deut. 26:19). For “shall be called” is not the same as “shall be.” But it is sinners, who in themselves are not, are by sovereign grace called holy, and rightly so because they are viewed in the Holy One, the Messiah, and are His saints; and where there are saints this prophecy is fulfilled. In Him they are not only called holy, not only called sons of God, but they are (I John 3:1, ASV). In Him they are predestinated to eternal life, their names being written in the Book of Life before the foundation of the world. This book of life is not that in which are written those destined to earthly life (Ex. 32:32f; Ps. 69:29), but that which contains the names of those ordained to eternal life (Ps. 87:46; Dan. 12:1; Luke 10:20; Phil. 4:3; Rev. 3:5; Rev. 13:8; Rev. 17:8; Rev. 20:12, 15, Rev. 21:27). It is evident from at least two of these texts that there are some whose names are not written in this Book (cp. also Ezek. 13:9). But the elect are written there, and that unalterably, for this writing is God’s writing, and He may say better than anyone, “What I have written, I have written.” These elect are chosen to salvation, including sanctification (II Thes. 2:13; Eph. 1:4). Then they are chosen unconditionally, particularly and personally, for this is not a writing of nations, races or churches, but of individual persons. Holiness, the eternal security of the saints, their final preservation and perseverance are the fruits of the tree and original root of election.
“O that Adonai shall have washed away the filth (drunkard’s vomit, Is. 28:8; human excrement, Is. 36:12) of the daughters of Zion (the women just mentioned in Is. 3:16), and shall have washed away the bloods of Jerusalem from her midst, with a spirit of judgment and a spirit of destroying” (Heb. 4:4). The elect remnant shall be called holy and shall be actually holy, for “the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion.” Zion, the Church, shall be cleansed from the corruption of the people and especially of those women who loved luxury and flirty finery. The church’s cleansing of its filth is attained by the cutting off of the wicked within. The church will not be kept from corruption unless it is cleansed of the wicked thing. Wickedness is filthiness, especially bloodshed and murder. These evils defiled the land almost more than any other. The defilement of these sins in our own land is just as rife. The murder rate in the city of Houston is increasing fearfully. The reforming of a city can only be in the cleansing of it, and that effected by the restraining, punishment, and eradication of violence and wickedness. But where is this being done to the extent that an atmosphere of safety is once more restored? However, this failure and laxity in the state must definitely not be tolerated in the church. In the true church it shall not be, for “the Lord shall” do it. The church shall be reformed “not by might nor by power but by My Spirit, saith the Lord” (Zech. 4:6). By His power and grace the church shall be purged of false worship, of corruption in the sacraments, of worship forms not of God, of all immorality and worldliness, of all workers of iniquity. They shall be taken out of Christ’s kingdom and churches. (Matt. 8:12).