“For Thou hast rejected Thy people, the house of Jacob, because they are filled from the East, and (with) sorcerers, like the Philistines: and with the children of foreigners they go hand in hand.”
I. The Suffering of it. A. Deserted. For, or because! Calvin spots the connection of the discourse when he imagines that Isaiah, in amazement at the blatant evils of the nation, suddenly breaks off his line of thought to turn to God with, “Thou dost rightly reject a nation so desperately wicked, because, abandoning itself to dark Satanic depths, it is not walking in the light” (v. 5)! Thou hast rejected Thy people. With the rejecting of the Jews there would be a receiving of the Gentiles;. The fall and diminishing of the Jews became the riches of the Gentiles, the casting off of the Jews the reconciling of the world (Rom. 11:12-15). There would be a temporary rejection of the elect, but He will not reject them utterly (Ps. 94:14; I Sam. 12:22). But these are the unbelieving reprobate Jews who claim to be God’s chosen people and the house of Jacob, who say they are Jews, but are not, who are the synagogue of Satan, for which the wrath of God comes on them to the uttermost. After the rejection of Christ on the cross, the Jewish church became a synagogue of Satan and God said of it, “Your house is left unto you desolate” (Matt. 23:38).
B. Unpardoned. “and Thou wilt not forgive them” (v. 9; cp. Ex. 34:7), which is the exact opposite of, “Father:, forgive them.” Calvin points out that Isaiah does not speak “of every individual, but of the body of the people, which was so deeply infected by its vices that there was no hope of cure.” Matthew Henry with still more force says that the nation of the Jews, as far as its connection with the religion of Jehovah is concerned, would be wholly cut off to an “irreversible doom . . . never to be formed into such a body again, nor ever to have their old charter restored to them again.”
II. The Deserving of it, for reasons which follow. 1. They became expert practitioners in occult arts. “Rejected . . . because they are full from the East with sorcerers.” From the East indicates the source of all occultism, going back to Babylon. “Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord’s hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine, therefore the nations are mad” (Jer. 51:7). Babylon was the original source from which the occult arts flowed. Egypt and Greece derived their apocryphal religions from Babylon. The esoteric system of the Phoenicians and the Romans came from the same source, and “. . . the secret system of Free Masonry was originally founded on the mysteries of the Egyptian Isis, the goddess-mother or wife of Osiris” (Hislop). Here, too, is the origin of all Satanism, as a study of the god Aesculapius reveals. Babylon, the great mother of the whores of the abominations of the earth, represents the kingdom of Antichrist in the aspect of its seductiveness. By her golden cup she entices to drink of her allurements, the exquisite poetry and prose in the whore’s (anti- Christian) literature; her seductive science, the heady cup of her philosophy, the brilliance of her music, the allure of her entertainment. The occult arts go back to the time of the Chaldean Semiramis who reigned in the time of Abraham. She infected the minds of many with the mystery-cult religions of the East. These “mysteries” were introduced privately, little by little, under the pledge of secrecy and the sanction of an oath, so that what could not safely be revealed all at once and openly in all its hideousness was inculcated stealthily and secretly. Semiramis was a beautiful but abandoned queen of Babylon, a paragon of unbridled lust and licentiousness. She is identified with Venus, the mother of all impurity. With her, Babylon became the “grand seat at once of idolatry and consecrated prostitution” (Hislop). A study of the secret societies will show a connection with heathen idolatry and the foul evils lurking in the bosom of the Babylonian system.
They are filled with sorcerers like the Philistines, who were deeply involved in the Babylonian arts, including witchcraft. The latter was to be found in the guilds. In Lydia, the population of the city of Thyatira was divided into tradeguilds. Each guild had its own patron-god and its heathen feasts in honor of its pagan deity. “In the existing state of society it was impossible to dissociate membership of a guild from idolatry, and the idolatry was of a kind that by its symbolism and its efficacy exerted great influence on its adherents, making them members of a unity (at once a labor-union and a secret society—RCH) which was essentially non-Christian and anti-Christian.” (Ramsay, Hastings Bible Dictionary). Their religious banquetings, even in the highest Greek culture (cp. Socrates), were celebrated with base revelry and immorality.
2. They became friendly with foreigners: (and with the children of foreigners they (strike hands with) go hand in hand.” The heathen do not use the common handshake, but hold the hands palm up while another strikes downward with his hands on the upturned palms, to reciprocate holding his own palms upward to receive a pat on the palms. So they became friendly with aliens from the commonwealth of Israel. They went so far as to reject their own heritage and history to find rapport with those ignorant of God’s mighty acts. Their land became a hot-bed of syncretistic admixture with Syrians, Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, Philistines and Phoenicians. The more they became fond of them, their fashions and customs, the more cultured they thought them to be.
3. They made gold their god: “and his land is full of silver and gold, and there is no end to his treasures; and his land is full of horses and there is no end to his chariots” (v. 7). They came more and more to depend upon the money and the armies of these foreign powers. This is true of the Roman Catholic Church which has heaped up riches by selling indulgences and masses, and by the paying of tithes and fees for praying souls out of purgatory. The Vatican with its army and treasuries is a picture of any nation’s reliance on its military might and of everyone gone money-mad. This goes double for the secular, hybrid nation of Yisraeli which relies on other nations for its own scientific, economic and military development. This is true of the Soviet state. Communism cannot make it, on its own, without the opulent aid of capitalist nations. Israeli, Russia and the USA all have this in common that they are depending on their own treasuries and armies as though they could not be safe, easy and happy without them. Yet in plain honesty they all must admit that they are not so with them. It comes down to this, Blessed is the nation (ha goi) whose God is the Lord. That nation is identified by a comparison of Matt. 21:43 with I Pet. 2:9 as the Church!
4. They gave idols their homage: “and his land is full of idols. To the work of his hands they do homage, (to) that which his fingers have made” (v. 8). The word for idols, having intentional, similar sound to Elohim, the Putter forth of all power, is elilim, nothings. Images, far from being books of the ignorant laity, are in pedagogical value worthless. Jeremiah taught this, too, calling idols non-entities, no gods and lies, and the men who use them stupid. These absurd godlets are gross and ghastly caricatures of the one true and living God (Jer. 2:11; Jer. 10:14, 15, 10). “They that think one God too little will find two too many” (Matthew Henry). Nor will the ungodly world evolve out of and above their empty idolatries. “But the rest of humanity, who were not killed by those plagues, did not repent from the works of their hands, so as to cease worshiping demons and the idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood, that can neither see nor hear nor walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, or of their magic arts, or of their immorality, or of their thefts” (Rev. 9:20-21, The New Berkley Version).
5. They degraded themselves: “and the little man (common man) is bowed down, and the big man is humbled, and Thou wilt not forgive them” (v. 9). They degraded themselves with their abominations. Now they learn to their terror that there is the abomination that makes desolate. Now they will be thrown down to the rocks and to the dust in final judgment, all of them, men lost in the crowd and outstanding public figures alike—”the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the chief captains, the mighty man, every bondman and every free man shall hide themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains.” Society, at the day of judgment, is still constituted as it always has been. Modem civilization, politically, shall not have advanced beyond the ancient establishment of monarchy. Such idealism is not to be realized. Kings, princes and orders of nobility remain on the earth till judgment comes. No utopia of peace and prosperity is to be expected in this world, wherein all nations convert their instruments of destruction into implements of agriculture, with the noise of war forever silenced. For that day will find soldiers and military men embroiled in blood, sweat and tears up to its very end. Nor will there be a complete end to human slavery, with all men free and no more class distinctions. For the final judgment will find slaves and their masters still in the world. Religious and political advocates of the social gospel will then, if not before, find it to be an utter failure. For the world with all its evils, its social and economic injustices will continue under the burden of them until Christ comes to throw down all the wicked and judge them for their sins.