Israel’s Futile Idolatry
57 The righteous man perishes,
and no one lays it to heart;
devout men are taken away,
while no one understands.
For the righteous man is taken away from calamity;
he enters into peace;
they rest in their beds
who walk in their uprightness.
But you, draw near,
sons of the sorceress,
offspring of the adulterer and the loose woman.
Whom are you mocking?
Against whom do you open your mouth wide
and stick out your tongue?
Are you not children of transgression,
the offspring of deceit,
you who burn with lust among the oaks,
under every green tree,
who slaughter your children in the valleys,
under the clefts of the rocks?
Among the smooth stones of the valley is your portion;
they, they, are your lot;
to them you have poured out a drink offering,
you have brought a grain offering.
Shall I relent for these things?
On a high and lofty mountain
you have set your bed,
and there you went up to offer sacrifice.
Behind the door and the doorpost
you have set up your memorial;
for, deserting me, you have uncovered your bed,
you have gone up to it,
you have made it wide;
and you have made a covenant for yourself with them,
you have loved their bed,
you have looked on nakedness.
You journeyed to the king with oil
and multiplied your perfumes;
you sent your envoys far off,
and sent down even to Sheol.
You were wearied with the length of your way,
but you did not say, “It is hopeless”;
you found new life for your strength,
and so you were not faint.
Whom did you dread and fear,
so that you lied,
and did not remember me,
did not lay it to heart?
Have I not held my peace, even for a long time,
and you do not fear me?
I will declare your righteousness and your deeds,
but they will not profit you.
When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you!
The wind will carry them all off,
a breath will take them away.
But he who takes refuge in me shall possess the land
and shall inherit my holy mountain.
Comfort for the Contrite
And it shall be said,
“Build up, build up, prepare the way,
remove every obstruction from my people’s way.”
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive the heart of the contrite.
For I will not contend forever,
nor will I always be angry;
for the spirit would grow faint before me,
and the breath of life that I made.
Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry,
I struck him; I hid my face and was angry,
but he went on backsliding in the way of his own heart.
I have seen his ways, but I will heal him;
I will lead him and restore comfort to him and his mourners,
creating the fruit of the lips.
Peace, peace, to the far and to the near,” says the LORD,
“and I will heal him.
But the wicked are like the tossing sea;
for it cannot be quiet,
and its waters toss up mire and dirt.
There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”
Isaiah 57 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Spiritual Adultery. The term itself seems impossible really. It also stands as an offensive term. But this is what God addresses with the people of Israel and their leaders. They have sought an intimate relationship with something other than Him. In quite graphic verbiage God speaks as to what this looks like for the people specifically. They have sought after the gods of the land for answers and intimacy. They have climbed into bed with these things, a statement that paints a picture of how God sees such acts. Although I’m sure they never imagined these things were as intimate as a man and wife in bed, God sees it that way.
Marriage is that exclusive relationship where two become one. Adultery ruins such a commitment. God reckons the people were breaking this commitment they had to Him by seeking the idols of the day and practicing extreme behavior. He states He will expose them for what they truly are. Their own works and even self-imposed righteousness would not save them, just like the gods of which they followed.
The good news or encouragement is God exposes these things but also speaks of how they can return. He hasn’t written them off as a scorned lover often does. The last 8 verses speak to this. It would require their admitting their sin but also pursuing a different standard. They were to remove the obstacles that had brought them to this point. Much like in real life when adultery has ruined a trust level, for that marriage to survive, a cutting off of the other relationship is required for healing to slowly take place. God speaks of healing and guiding and restoration.
When we consider the phrase spiritual adultery we may not have gods of wood or stone today of which we pursue. But we certainly have other things that take precedence. People follow a career, a paycheck, a large bank account and so forth. Any of us could fill in the blank to what has caught our own eye and driven our pursuit.
Is the Holy Spirit bringing things to mind where we have possibly done this? What is He saying? Besides admitting our failure in this area (which for some is where the buck stops and they hardly ever admit their failings) we must make changes. We must choose to remove those obstacles that led to such an affair with something other than God and seek His guidance on moving forward. We must get back to the basics of our own relationship with God of which as a scorned lover still longs for relationship with us.
Isaiah 57 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
And it will be said, “Build up, build up, prepare the way, Remove every obstacle out of the way of My people.”Isaiah 57:14 NASB
Remove every stumbling block! If this phrase sounds familiar it’s because it was referenced earlier on in Isaiah. In Chapter 8, we read of the stumbling block, but in a different context.
“Then He shall become a sanctuary; But to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over, And a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem.Isaiah 8:14 NASB
In Chapter 8, the stumbling block is God Himself. Isaiah, in this context, is commanded to leave the people to their own will and allow them to be subjected to God’s righteous judgment. In Chapter 57, we see a much different tone. In fact, God is removing ALL stumbling blocks for the people. Similar to a highway which is paved over with fresh asphalt, the road to God is being removed of all cracks and potholes. Nothing will hold back the people from access to God.
So, the question is, what is the difference between to the two passages? In Chapter 8, we have not yet been introduced to The Servant – Jesus Christ. The Messiah is the One who prepares the way. He is the One who removes the stumbling block of sin. The people can now stop hiding and begin healing. The path is clear.
We can’t tell this story enough. God’s righteous anger has been satisfied through His Son Jesus, and now He had prepared a way for His love. Those who humble themselves will find the smooth road to the Father through repentance but those who oppose will indeed find the stumbling block from Chapter 8.