Isaiah 64:5 MEANING

Isaiah 64:5
(5) Thou meetest him . . .--The "meeting" is obviously one of favour. That was the law of God's dealings with men. He met, in this sense, those who at once rejoiced in righteousness and practised it. But with Israel it was not so. Their sins had brought them under His anger, not under His favour.

In those is continuance . . .--The clause is difficult, and has been variously interpreted--(1) "In these (the ways of God) there is permanence (literally, eternity), that we may be saved;" and (2) "In these (the ways of evil) have we been a long time, and shall we be saved?" The latter seems preferable. So taken, the clause carries on the confession of the people's sinfulness.

Verse 5. - Thou meetest him that rejoiceth. God "meets" with gracious welcome and ready aid whoever rejoices in doing righteousness and serving him, whoever "remembers him in his ways." But this, alas: is not the present relationship between God and Israel. God is "angry" with them - they must, therefore, "have sinned;" and so they proceed to confess their sin. In those is continuance, and we shall be saved. This is a very difficult passage. Mr. Cheyne regards it as hopelessly corrupt. Bishop Lowth and Ewald attempt emendations. Of those who accept the present text, some understand "in those" of God's ways, others of the "sins" implied in the confession, "We have sinned:" some make the last clause an affirmation, others a question. Delitzsch renders, "Already we have been long in this state (of sin), and shall we be saved?" Grotius and Starck, "If we had remained in them (i.e. thy ways) continually, we should have been saved."

64:1-5 They desire that God would manifest himself to them and for them, so that all may see it. This is applicable to the second coming of Christ, when the Lord himself shall descend from heaven. They plead what God had used to do, and had declared his gracious purpose to do, for his people. They need not fear being disappointed of it, for it is sure; or disappointed in it, for it is sufficient. The happiness of his people is bound up in what God has designed for them, and is preparing for them, and preparing them for; what he has done or will do. Can we believe this, and then think any thing too great to expect from his truth, power, and love? It is spiritual and cannot be comprehended by human understanding. It is ever ready. See what communion there is between a gracious God and a gracious soul. We must make conscience of doing our duty in every thing the Lord our God requires. Thou meetest him; this speaks his freeness and forwardness in doing them good. Though God has been angry with us for our sins, and justly, yet his anger has soon ended; but in his favour is life, which goes on and continues, and on that we depend for our salvation.Thou meetest him that rejoiceth,.... Not in a carnal way, nor in a sinful manner, nor in a hypocritical one, or in vain boastings, all such rejoicing is evil: but in the Lord, in the person of Christ; in the greatness, glory, and fullness of his person; at the promise, and in the view, of his coming in the flesh, as Abraham did; in the grace of God displayed in him, and in hope of the glory of God by him; such a frame of spirit is agreeable to the Lord:

and worketh righteousness; a truly gracious soul is not idle, but works; not in his own strength, nor for life, or anything but what is just and right; no man indeed can work out a perfect righteousness, nor should men attempt to work out one for justification before God; but should lay hold by faith on the righteousness of Christ, which is the evangelical and best way of working righteousness; and such do works of righteousness in faith, which is doing them in the best manner, and the course of life of such is righteous; and these are regarded by the Lord, especially such who rejoice to work righteousness, or do it, in a cheerful joyful manner, which perhaps is the sense of the words: now such the Lord "meeteth", or has been used to meet, in former ages, in all generations, even in a way of love, grace, and mercy; and prevents them with the blessings of his goodness; indulges them with communion with himself through his Son, typified by the mercyseat; and at the throne of his grace, and in his house and ordinances. The Jewish commentators understand this phrase in a different manner. R. Jonah and Jarchi interpret it of God's meeting the righteous, and removing them out of the world by death, according to 1 Kings 2:25 and Aben Ezra of his receiving their prayers and intercessions for others, according to Isaiah 47:3. Kimchi joins both senses together,

"the righteous, who were doing thy commandments with joy, are not now in the world, to stand in the gap for us.''

Those that remember thee in thy ways; they remember there is a God, and worship him; the perfections of his nature, and adore them; his works of providence, and admire them; and his blessings of grace and goodness, and are thankful for them: they remember him "in his ways"; in the ways of his providence, which are unsearchable, and past finding out; in the ways of his grace and mercy, so the Targum; or "for" or "because" (q) of these, and praise his name; and in the ways of his commandments, which they observe.

Behold, thou art wroth, and we have sinned; or because we have sinned (r); as for us, we have sinned, and justly incurred the displeasure of God; and it is no wonder he hides his face from us, and does not meet us, as he has been used to meet his people formerly. The people of God sin, and this is taken notice of by him, and resented; and which is the cause of all their afflictions, in which the Lord appears to be "wroth" with them; not that he is properly so, for afflictions to them are not in vindictive wrath; but he seems to be wroth with them, he carries it towards them as if he was, when he chastises them, and hides his face from them. In those is continuance, and we shall be saved: or "in these we have been of old" (s); that is, in these sins; we are old sinners, sinners in Adam, sinners from our birth, and so in these sins is continuance: saints indeed do not continue in a course of sin, yet sin continues in them, and they are continually sinning in thought, word, or deed; yet nevertheless there is salvation from all their sins in Christ, in whom they shall be saved: or there is continuance in works of righteousness, and in the cheerful performance of them; the principle of well doing continues in believers, which is the grace of God, and spiritual strength, by which they do well; and through the grace of Christ they persevere in faith and holiness, and, persevering herein, shall be saved. Or rather there is continuance in the ways of God, in the ways of his grace and mercy; in them there is constancy, perpetuity, and eternity, as the word signifies; his love is an everlasting love; his mercy is from everlasting to everlasting, and endures for ever; he is unchangeable in his grace and promises, and hence his people shall not be consumed in their sins by his wrath, but shall be everlastingly saved; which is entirely owing to his permanent and immutable grace, and not to their works of righteousness, as appears by what follows.

(q) "propter vias tuas", Piscator. (r) "quia vel nam peccavimus", Vatablus, Grotius, Forerius, Gataker. So some in Munster, "vau", is often causal. (s) "in his peccatis consenuimus", Tigurine version some in Munster; "in ipsis peccatis semper fuimus", Forerius.

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