Isaiah 50:1. Thus saith the LORD, Where is the bill of your mother’s divorcement, whom I have put away?
Sometimes, the headings to the chapters in our Bible give us the meaning of the passage. They are, of course, not inspired, and are merely put there by the translators but, sometimes, they are little comments upon the text. It is so in the heading of this chapter: — “Christ sheweth that the dereliction of the Jews is not to be imputed to him, by his ability to save, by his obedience in that work, and by his confidence in that assistance,” so that the Lord Jesus here speaks to the Jewish Church. The great Redeemer, “the mighty One of Jacob,” thus speaks to his chosen people Israel: “Where is the bill of your mother’s divorcement, whom I have put away?”
Isaiah 50:1. Or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away.
It was sin that caused the alienation between Israel and her God, and it is sin that is the cause of all the estrangement from God in the world. A sinful man, so long as he continues to live in sin, cannot love a holy God.
Isaiah 50:2-3. Wherefore, when I came, was there no man? when I called, was there none to answer? Is my hand shortened at all, that it can’t redeem? or have I no power to deliver? behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness: their fish stinketh, because there is no water, and dieth for thirst. I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering.
What a glorious God this is who says that he has not divorced his people!
How mighty he is; yea, almighty! All power is in his hands. Notice who he is, for he goes on to describe himself: —
Isaiah 50:4. The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.
Just as scholars learn from their teacher. It was a wondrous stoop for the Omnipotent to become a learner; but he descended lower than that.
Isaiah 50:5. The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.
This was another step in the ladder of Christ’s humiliation, but he went lower still. Read the 3rd verse again, and then read the 6th. “I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering.”
Isaiah 50:6-7. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. For the Lord GOD will help me, therefore shall I not be confounded, therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.
Even though he had to stoop so low as to endure shame and spitting, he knew that the ultimate result would be glory to God and to himself also. He had no thought of despairing. It had been already written of him, “He shall not fail nor be discouraged.” He shall surely accomplish the work which his Father gave him to do. The next verse is probably the one from which Paul took that grand challenge of his, “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died,” and so on. He takes out of the mouth of Christ his words of confidence and puts them into the mouth of all Christ’s people.
Isaiah 50:8. He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me?
Our Lord Jesus Christ was justified in his resurrection. He took his people’s sin upon him, and therefore he had to die in their place; but his work was so complete that he was himself justified as well as all his people and he challenges anyone to lay anything to his charge.
Isaiah 50:8-10. Let us stand together: who is mine adversary? let him come near to me. Behold, the Lord God will help me, who is he that shall condemn me? lo, they all shall wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up. Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light?
It is the Saviour still speaking, for he knew what it was to walk in darkness, and to have no light. And what terrible darkness it was, my brethren! What an awful thing it was to him to have so suffer the withdrawal of the light of his Father’s countenance from him! He knows, therefore, what this trial means; and being full of compassion, he offers to us the kindest counsel if we are in a similar condition. What does he tell us to do? Hearken, you who do love the Lord, yet who are in the dark.
Isaiah 50:10. Let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.
In darkness or in the light, take heed that ye do this, when everything about you seems contrary to the divine promises, and your spirits are ready to sink, take heed to this good counsel of your Saviour: “Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.”
Isaiah 50:11. Behold, all ye that kindle a fire,
Ye who would fain save yourselves, —
Isaiah 50:11. That compass yourselves about with sparks:
Or, firebrands, —
Isaiah 50:11. Walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks —
Or, flambeaux —
Isaiah 50:11. That ye have kindled.
That will be the end of it. This grand illumination of yours, — all your good works, all your glorious intellect, and I know not what, — what will come of it?
Isaiah 50:11. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.
God save us all from such a lying down so that at the last, for Christ’s sake! Amen.