Isa_27:4, Isa_27:5. God's Gracious Proposal to His Enemies
"Fury is not in me. Who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them; I would burn them up together. Or let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me, and he shall make peace with me"—Isa_27:4, Isa_27:5.
Whatever views we take of Deity, it is of great importance that we do not attribute to him any quality which implies either evil or imperfection. He assures us in the text, that fury is not in him. And it is not necessary; tor he can easily effect all his purposes by the deliberate execution of his holy, just, and wise arrangements He is the Fountain and Author of peace nothing can ruffle or disturb the equanimity of the Divine Mind. All the passages in the writings of the sacred penmen, in reference to Jehovah, which speak of his wrath and fury, are therefore to be considered only in a figurative, and not in an absolutely literal sense. If fury belonged to Jehovah, none of his erring creatures could stand before him. But, although fury is not in him, yet he is the Just, the True, and the Holy One; and, therefore, he can in nowise connive at sin, or spare those who remain incorrigibly wicked. He reveals himself in his word as the never-failing Friend of his people, the determined enemy of the wicked, and as the willing Saviour of all who humble themselves and seek his mercy. As such the text presents him to our view: "Fury is not in me," &c.
We have in this passage
I. A Figurative Representation of Wicked Men.
"Who would set the briers and thorns against me?" &c.
Wicked men may be likened to briers and thorns in the allowing respects:
1. As they both originated in the first transgression.
It was a part of the sentence God passed upon Adam, that the earth should bring forth thorns and thistles, &c. In like manner, all that is morally evil in the world has flowed from that fountain of original guilt—from that act of crime which
"Brought death into the world, and all our wo."
All men partake of Adam's fallen likeness and depraved nature. Gen_3:11; Rom v 19.
Wicked men may be likened to briers and thorns.
2. On account of their worthlessness.
The righteous are compared to the vine, to the cedar, and to the olive: by which God's estimate of them is at once exhibited. But briers and thorns are emblems of utter worthlessness. The wise man says, "The heart of the wicked is little worth;" Pro_10:20. His powers are prostituted, and the great end of his life perverted. He yields no fruit to the real good of mankind or to the glory of God. They resemble briers and thorns,
3. In being exceedingly prolific Weeds, and thistles, and thorns are generally very productive. So wickedness in the human heart is rapid in its growth, and lamentably productive. Wicked men and seducers wax worse and worse. This also applies to the world at large. See how soon the earth was filled with every thing polluted in thought and wicked in act! Gen_6:5. Wicked men resemble briers and thorns,
4. In their end.
Hence says the apostle, "But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned;" Heb_6:8. "Upon the wicked," says the Psa. ist, "God will rain snares, fire, and brimstone," &c., Psa_11:6. Notice in the text,
II. The Opposition of Wicked Men to God asserted.
"Who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle?" There is direct hostility on the part of the sinner to God. All iniquity is against God—against his holy nature and righteous laws. It is treason—rebellion.
1. The heart of the wicked is set against God.
"The carnal mind is enmity against God;" Rom_8:7; Rom_1:21, &c. "The heart is deceitful above all things," &c.; Jer_17:9.
2. The mouth of the wicked is against God.
"The mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things;" Pro_15:28. "His mouth is full of cursing and deceit;" Psa_10:7. "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness;" Rom_3:14; Pro_18:21.
3. The life of the wicked is against God.
Eph_2:1-3; Rom_1:28-32. Yes; all his principles, plans, designs, and labors are in opposition to God.
III. The Certainty of their Discomfiture and utter Ruin.
"I would go through them, I would burn them up together." A moment's reflection ought to convince the most infatuated of the folly of contending with the Most High. "Wo unto him that striveth with his Maker;" Isa_45:9. Consider, 1 That his wisdom would baffle all their stratagems.
He taketh the wicked in their own craftiness, &c.
2. His power would overcome all their opposition However combined, however determined, he can crush them as the moth destroy them with the breath of his nostrils. All creatures are at his command; all resources are his—the wasting pestilence, the deadly famine, the locust, the mildew, the tempest. He can slay in the chase, as in Pharaoh; dethrone reason, as in Nebuchadnezzar; or eat up with worms, as in Herod; or leave them to destroy themselves, as in Saul and Judas.
3. His wrath would utterly consume them.
See old world, Pharaoh and his host; cities of the plain; Assyrian army, &c. Skill, courage, numbers, confederacy are all in vain. "He would go through them; he would burn them up together." But fury is not in him; he desires not the death of a sinner; therefore consider,
IV. The Gracious Alternative revealed—
"Or let him take hold of my strength, and be at peace with me."
1. God's strength is his Son Jesus Christ—Who is the wisdom of God and the power of God. Hence the angels and elders ascribe unto him "power, and riches and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing." Rev_5:12.
2. To lay hold of his strength is to receive his Son in his mediatorial capacity.
To run into him as the manslayer did into the city of refuge; or to lay hold of him as Adonijah did of the horns of the altar. 1Ki_1:50.
3. The manner in which we must do this.
(1) With feelings of sorrowful regret on account of our previous hostility. "Look on him whom they have pierced, and mourn," &c.
(2) With a pacific disposition: "And be at peace with me." Weapons thrown away. "Cease to do evil," &c. Sue for peace. The palm and the olive-branch must wave, &c.
(3) In the exercise of believing supplication: "God be merciful to me a sinner!" "Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved."
(4) Immediately. "For today, if ye will hear his voice," &c. "Behold, now is the accepted time," &c. "Now it is high time to awake out of sleep." And what shall be the result if we thus lay hold of his strength, and be at peace with him?
This leads us to notice,
V. The blessed Declaration given—
"And he shall make peace with me." That the result shall be agreeable to this declaration, we infer from these considerations,
1. That this is God's own plan of reconciliation—The production of his wisdom, power, and grace. And he will assuredly honor it. He cannot abandon it.
2. He is exceedingly desirous that sinners should avail themselves of it.
"Come and let us reason together," &c. Isa_1:18. "Let the wicked forsake his way," &c. Isa_55:8. "The Spirit and the bride say, Come," &c. Rev_22:17.
3. In no instance has he refused to be at peace with the sincere applicant for mercy.
Did he reject Manasseh, or the publican, or the dying thief, or the woman who was a sinner, or the Jerusalem murderers, or the flagrant and polluted sinners of Corinth? No: they all applied for peace, and they all made peace with him.
Learn 1. The sinner's madness and infatuation. To fight against God! to fight with the absolute certainty of discomfiture and ruin!
2. The goodness and condescension of God. How able to destroy, yet how willing and ready to save!
3. The only plan of safety. To lay hold of God's strength; to believe the record he hath given of his Son, &c.
4. The certainty of the truly penitent obtaining mercy.