Lift Up Your Eyes

Isaiah 51:4-6.

Hearken unto Me, My people; and give ear unto Me, O My nation: for a law shall proceed from Me, and I will make My judgment to rest for a light of the people.

My righteousness is near; My salvation is gone forth, and Mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon M, and on Mine arm shall they trust.

Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but My salvation shall be for ever, and My righteousness shall not be abolished.

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Hearken in  v. 4 is a stronger verb than in v. 1.  It means attend to me –  – attend, and hear of a greater blessing than the restoration of the land of Judah to cultivation and fruitfulness. God, enthroned anew in Zion, will from there send forth His light and His truth to the nations, will make His Law known to them, and allow them to partake of His salvation. 

O my nation. Some manuscripts have “O ye nations.” But that reading is undoubtedly a wrong one. He is specifically addressing Israel, although later He makes it clear the ALL nation may partake of His salvation. 

A law shall proceed from me. The Christian “law” – the new covenant – is probably intended. This became, by the preaching of the apostles, a light of the people, or rather, of the peoples.

Verse 5.My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth. “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and. a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). Isaiah always speaks as if the Messianic kingdom was to  arrive almost immediately on the return of the exiles to Palestine. It was not revealed to him that there would be an interval of from five hundred to six hundred years between the two events.

By God’s “righteousness” here we must understand His righteous plans for the redemption of His people through Christ, and for the punishment of those who resist his will and remain impenitent.

The salvation and the judgment are the two parts of the “righteousness.” The isles shall wait upon me(comp. Isaiah 41:1, 5Isaiah 42:4, 10, 12Isaiah 49:1Isaiah 60:9, On mine arm shall they trust. God’s “arm” is His executive power – that might by which He accomplishes His purposes. The “isles” or “countries” that have been expecting the coming of a Deliverer will have faith in his power to redeem and save them. Christianity was received with more readiness by the Gentiles than by the “peculiar people” (Acts 11:21Acts 13:42, 46Acts 14:1, 2Acts 17:4, 5Acts 18:6 ).

Verse 6. Lift up your eyes to the heavens. Look to that which seems to you most stable and most certain to endure – the vast firmament of the heavens, and the solid earth beneath it, of which God “bears up the pillars” (Psalm l25:3). Both the heavens and the earth, and man too, are in their nature perishable, and will (or may) vanish away and cease to be. But God, and His power to save, and His eternal law of right, can never pass away, but must endure for evermore.

Let Israel understand that the righteous purposes of God with respect to their own deliverance from Babylon, and to the conversion of the Gentiles, stand firm, and that they will most certainly be accomplished. The heavens shall vanish away like smoke (comp. Psalm 102:26Matthew 24:352 Peter 3:10-12)And the earth shall wax old like a garment. So also in Psalm 102:26 and Hebrews 1:11. The new heaven and new earth promised by Isaiah (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22),  Peter (2 Peter 3:13), and  John (Revelation 21:1) are created in the last times, because “the first heaven and the first earth have passed away.” They that dwell there shall die in like manner. But the Hebrew text does not say, “in like manner,” but as in like manner.” Man is not subject to the same law of perishing as the the physical heavens and the earth, but to a different law. External things simply “pass away” and are no more. Man disappears from the earth, but continues to exist somewhere. He has, by God’s gift, a life that is to be unceasing.

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