Isaiah 57

Sunday Morning Bible Study

June 11, 2000


This chapter seems to be a continuation of what started back in Is. 56:9, where God was warning the nation of their judgment due to having ungodly leaders.

:1-2 Why the righteous perish

:1 The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that

righteoustsaddiyq – just, lawful, righteous

perisheth ‘abad – perish, vanish, go astray, be destroyed

layethsuwm – to put, place, set, appoint, make

mercifulcheced – goodness, kindness, faithfulness

taken away ‘acaph – to gather, receive, remove, gather in

evilra‘– bad, evil

:1 the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.

The righteous people would only be able to get away from the wickedness by dying. If this follows in the same prophetic vein as 56:9-12, then this would be talking about the righteous that would die before the coming destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonian army.

An interesting thought – It’s possible that this could be a description of what happens at the Rapture of the church. The righteous (us) will vanish (perish), and it will be to keep us from the evil that is coming during the Tribulation period on earth.

:2 He shall enter into peace:

peaceshalowm – completeness, soundness, welfare, peace

A picture of the death of the righteous. The Bible often talks about the believer’s death as if the person is "asleep".

:2 they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.

restnuwach – (Qal) to rest, settle down and remain; to repose, have rest, be quiet

uprightnessnakoach – straight, right, straightness, be in front of

:3-10 Rebuke for idolaters

:3 ye sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and the whore.

sorceress ‘anan – (Poel) to practise soothsaying, conjure; to observe times, practice soothsaying or spiritism or magic or augury or witchcraft; soothsayer, enchanter, sorceress, diviner, fortuneteller

God’s relationship with His people is often compared to that of a husband and a wife. When people worship other gods, or idols, it is similar to a husband or a wife being unfaithful to their spouse.

:4 Against whom do ye sport yourselves?

sport ‘anag – (Hithpael) to be of dainty habit; to be happy about; to make merry over. Mock, jest. NIV – "Whom are you mocking?"

:4 against whom make ye a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue?

It’s like the people are making faces at God.

:4 are ye not children of transgression, a seed of falsehood,

transgressionpesha‘– transgression, rebellion

falsehoodsheqer – lie, deception, disappointment, falsehood

:5 Enflaming yourselves with idols under every green tree,

enflamingchamam – to be hot (Niphal) to become aroused, inflame oneself with

idols ‘el – god, god-like one, mighty one

:5 slaying the children in the valleys under the clifts of the rocks?

It was not uncommon for some of these pagan gods to be worshipped by human sacrifice, in particular, killing your own children.

One of the gods that was worshipped in those days was Molech. The god Molech was represented by a bronze statue that was heated up in the fire. Then a child was put in the statues red hot arms and the people beat kettle drums to drown out the cries of the baby as it was sacrificed to Molech.

Immorality followed by killing of children.

When you live in a culture that promotes immorality, you will have to come up with a way of dealing with the unwanted pregnancies. In those days, they would sacrifice the children to these idols, in our day we have abortion.

Not much has changed.

:6 Among the smooth stones of the stream is thy portion

streamnachal – torrent, valley, wadi, torrent-valley

portioncheleq – portion, share, part, territory

"This is your inheritance, these stupid little stone idols"

:6 they, they are thy lot: even to them hast thou poured a drink offering, thou hast offered a meat offering.

drink offeringnecek – drink offering, libation, molten image, something poured out

meat offeringminchah – gift, tribute, offering, present, oblation, sacrifice; grain offering

:6 Should I receive comfort in these?

receive comfortnacham – (Niphal) to be sorry, be moved to pity, have compassion; The idea is, "considering all the bad things you are doing, should I still be patient with you?"


Our sinful ways are yucky.


A man set out to do some ice-fishing on a frozen lake. Carefully having carrying his gear to a favorite spot, he proceeded to carve out a hole on the ice to drop his line, and settled into his mission. As he was waiting for the fish to bite, he noticed a young boy waddling onto the ice with a fishing pole, with a determined look on his face. The man smiled at the kid’s tenacity, but after a while, his expression turned to surprise as the boy kept pulling fish after fish out of the lake. After about an hour, the man slipped and slided across the ice to the boy and said to him, "Young man, I’ve been here for a while and haven’t caught anything, yet I see that you keep catching fish one after another. Do you mind if I ask what your secret is?" The young boy mumbled, "Mm mm mm mm mm mm mmmm!" "What did you say?" asked the puzzled man. "Mm mm mm mm mm mm mmmm!" "I’m sorry, son, I can’t understand you," the man replied. The boy spit into his hand and said, "Mister, you gotta keep your worms warm!"

You may figure that the things you’re doing are pretty great because you’re "catching fish", but to God, our sinful ways are totally gross.

:7 Upon a lofty and high mountain hast thou set thy bed

loftygaboahh – high, exalted

highnasa’ – to lift, bear up; (Niphal) to be lifted up, be exalted; to lift oneself up, rise up

bedmishkab – a lying down, couch, bier, act of lying; couch, bed; act of lying, lying down or sleeping room, bedroom; lying down (for sexual contact)

The worship of idols often took place on hilltops and mountain tops. The worship of these idols is seen here as the act of committing adultery.

:8 for thou hast discovered thyself

discoveredgalah – (Piel) to uncover (nakedness); to disclose, discover, lay bare; to make known, show, reveal

:8 and art gone up; thou hast enlarged thy bed, and made thee a covenant with them; thou lovedst their bed where thou sawest it.

enlargedrachab – to be or grow wide, be or grow large

lovedst ‘ahab – to love; human love for another, includes family, and sexual

:8 Behind the doors … hast thou set up thy remembrance:

remembrancezikrown – memorial, reminder. The people were hanging little pictures or statues of their idols on their doors.


What are you teaching at home?

(Deu 6:4-9 KJV) Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: {5} And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. {6} And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: {7} And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. {8} And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. {9} And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

God’s original desire was that His people would teach their children about Him. It was supposed to be His laws that were written on the doors of the house. But instead, the children in these houses learned about the wrong things.

:9 And thou wentest to the king with ointment

kingmelek – king; some translations have "Moloch", the name of one of the idols.

ointmentshemen – fat, oil

:9 and didst increase thy perfumes, and didst send thy messengers far off, and didst debase thyself even unto hell.

debaseshaphel – to be or become low, sink, be humbled, be abased

hellsh@’owl – sheol, underworld, grave, hell, pit

:10 saidst thou not, There is no hope …

There is no hopeya’ash – to despair; interjection – it is hopeless!

grievedchalah – to be or become weak, be or become sick, be or become diseased, be or become grieved, be or become sorry

(Isa 57:10 NIV) You were wearied by all your ways, but you would not say, 'It is hopeless.' You found renewal of your strength, and so you did not faint.


The strength of false hope

Hope, or anticipation, in almost anything, can keep you moving.


I remember hearing about tests done with laboratory wharf rats. These are the rats that live under the piers along the waterfront. One group of rats was placed in a large container of water, in the dark, with no place to stand on, they had to keep swimming. They all drowned within fifteen minutes. The second group was placed in a similar container, yet every ten minutes the lab technician would open the container, take the rats out, stroke them a few seconds, and put them back in the water. They didn't have time to rest, they just got a little encouragement. These rats went on swimming for over 12 hours (or something like that...).

What I’m curious about is how the experiment ended. I wonder if they just kept up the routine until the rats all drowned.

If that was the case, the rats had hope, but they had hope in the wrong thing. They had hope in something that wouldn’t help them.

"Hope" can be placed in the wrong thing.

These people kept telling themselves there was hope, they kept "psyching" themselves up.

People and things will let you down. If you are trusting in a friend to pull you through a tough time, expect that there will be times when you’ll be disappointed. Jesus will never let you down.

:11-12 Forgetting God

:11 And of whom hast thou been afraid or feared,

been afraidda’ag – to fear, be anxious, be concerned, be afraid, be careful

fearedyare’ – (Qal) to fear, be afraid; to stand in awe of, be awed; to fear, reverence, honour, respect

:11 that thou hast lied, and hast not remembered me

liedkazab – to lie, tell a lie, be a liar, be found a liar, be in vain, fail

not rememberedzakar – to remember, recall, call to mind

The Israelites didn’t want to admit to themselves that they were actually disobeying God, so they would lie to themselves about what they were doing.

They had reasons for why they did what they did.

It would be more honest of them to just outright renounce God than to make false promises about following Him when their heart wasn’t really in it.

:11 have not I held my peace even of old, and thou fearest me not?

held my peacechashah – to be silent, quiet, still, inactive

of old ‘owlam – long duration, antiquity, futurity, for ever, ever, everlasting, evermore, perpetual, old, ancient, world

fearestyare’ – (Qal) to fear, be afraid; to stand in awe of, be awed; to fear, reverence, honour, respect

(Isa 57:11 NLT) Why were you more afraid of them than of me? How is it that you don't even remember me or think about me? Is it because I have not corrected you that you have no fear of me?


Don’t mistake God’s silence with approval.

Sometimes we can get the idea that because we aren’t being "nailed" by God on something, that it must be okay with Him. In reality, He is just being patient with us, giving us a chance to turn around on our own.

(Rom 2:4 KJV) Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

:12 I will declare thy righteousness, and thy works

declarenagad – (Hiphil) to tell, declare; announce, report; make known

righteousnessts@daqah – justice, righteousness; righteous acts

These people were claiming to do good deeds, but God says that He will reveal just how good their deeds really were.

:13-21 God’s Forgiveness

:13 When thou criest, let thy companies deliver thee; but the wind shall carry them all away; vanity shall take them:

companiesqibbuwts – assemblage, assembly, gathering. their "collections of idols"

windruwach – wind, breath, mind, spirit

vanityhebel – vapour, breath; vanity (fig.) . In the King James, this word is always translated "vanity". Even in the NAS, it is only translated "breath" 5 out of 73 times. I can see in the context (with "wind") that it probably should be translated "breath", but it’s an interesting concept that these people are taken away with "vanity".

shall take themlaqach – to take, get, fetch, lay hold of, seize, receive, acquire, buy, bring, snatch, take away

God challenges the people to cry out to their collections (companies) of idols and see if they will deliver them from their problems.

:13 but he that putteth his trust in me shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain;

putteth his trustchacah – (Qal) to seek refuge, flee for protection; to put trust in (God), confide or hope in (God) (fig.)

shall possessnachal – to get as a possession, acquire, inherit, possess

shall inherityarash – to seize, dispossess, take possession off, inherit, disinherit, occupy, impoverish, be an heir

holy mountain – the temple was located on Mount Zion. This was the place where God lived, in a sense.

The one that will live where God lives is the person who flees to God for help.

We’ll see just what that looks like when we get to verse 15.

:14 And shall say, Cast ye up …, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumbling block out of the way of my people.

It’s the one who is trusting in the Lord (56:13) who will say …

cast ye upcalal – to lift up, exalt; to cast up a highway; to cast up a way

preparepanah – to turn; (Piel) to turn away, put out of the way, make clear, clear away

take upruwm – to rise, rise up, be high, be lofty, be exalted

stumbling blockmikshowl – a stumbling, means or occasion of stumbling, stumbling block

Speaking of God clearing out all the obstacles that would keep God’s people from returning to Him.

:15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place,

highruwm – to rise, rise up, be high, be lofty, be exalted

loftynasa’ – to lift, bear up, carry, take

Same two words used in verse 7.

inhabitethshakan – to settle down, abide, dwell, tabernacle, reside

eternity ‘ad – perpetuity, for ever, continuing future; of continuous existence

God dwells outside our "time domain". He lives in a whole different plane than we do.

Holyqadowsh – sacred, holy, set apart. He is very far removed from sin.

dwellshakan – to settle down, abide, dwell, tabernacle, reside

highmarowm – height; height, elevation, elevated place; in a high place (adv)


God is far different than we are.

We sometimes make a mistake by getting a little too "familiar" with God, making Him that "Big Buddy" up in the sky.

God is far above us. He’s far greater. He’s far bigger. He’s far smarter. He’s far purer. He’s far stronger.

When people in the Bible find themselves suddenly in God’s presence, do they go up to Him and give Him a "high five"?

No, they either faint or they are completely overcome by their own sinfulness and unworthiness. Look at Isaiah’s own example:

(Isa 6:1-5 KJV) In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. {2} Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. {3} And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. {4} And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. {5} Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

When Isaiah saw the Lord "high and lifted up" (same words that are used here in verse 15), his response was one of being overwhelmed with his own sin.

I think that if during worship or prayer, you never experience this sense of being overwhelmed with God’s greatness and your own unworthiness, I almost think something is wrong.

:16 For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth:

contendriyb – to strive, contend

wrothqatsaph – to be displeased, be angry; (Qal) to be full of wrath, to be furious

When you are like the person described in verse 15 ("contrite and humble"), then you will find that God doesn’t stay angry.

:16 for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made.

spiritruwach – wind, breath, mind, spirit

soulsn@shamah – breath, spirit

There are times when we are just too stubborn to listen to what God is saying and so He has to put a little pressure on our lives to wake us up. Yet He knows that we couldn’t take His continuous pressure.

:17 For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and

iniquity ‘avon – perversity, depravity, iniquity, guilt or punishment of iniquity

covetousnessbetsa‘– profit, unjust gain, gain (profit) acquired by violence

smotenakah – (Hiphil) to smite, strike, beat, scourge; to smite, chastise, send judgment upon, punish, destroy

hidsathar – to hide, conceal

:17 he went on frowardly in the way of his heart.

frowardlyshowbab – backsliding, backturning. "turning away" (NAS).

(Isa 57:17 NIV) I was enraged by his sinful greed; I punished him, and hid my face in anger, yet he kept on in his willful ways.

:18 I have seen his ways, and will heal him:

will healrapha’ – to heal, make healthful

For the humble and contrite, God will heal.

:18 I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners.

leadnachah – to lead, guide

restoreshalam – to be in a covenant of peace, be at peace; (Piel) to complete, finish; to make safe; to make whole or good, restore, make compensation

comfortsnichuwm – comfort, compassion

mourners ‘abel – mourning

:19 I create the fruit of the lips

createbara’ – to create, shape, form

God not only will comfort and restore His people, but He will be putting praise on their lips (Heb. 13:15).

(Heb 13:15 KJV) By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

:19 Peace, peace to him that is far off

Peaceshalowm – completeness, soundness, welfare, peace. The repetition "peace, peace" could also be translated "perfect peace".

far offrachowq – remote, far, distant, distant lands, distant ones

The gospel.

You may feel like God is far from you, but if you are willing to be humble and contrite (vs.15), then God offers you His perfect peace.

God’s peace starts with having peace with God. As sinful, rebellious people, we are at a state of "war" with God. Yet Jesus died on a cross in order to pay the penalty for our sins, so that we could be forgiven and have peace with God.

:19 and to him that is near, saith the LORD; and I will heal him.

nearqarowb – near; of place; of personal relationship; kinship

healrapha’ – to heal, make healthful

:20 the troubled sea … whose waters cast up mire and dirt.

wickedrasha‘– wicked, criminal

troubledgarash – to drive out, expel, cast out; (Niphal) to be driven away, be tossed

restshaqat – to be quiet, be tranquil, be at peace, be quiet, rest, lie still, be undisturbed

Those that are not "contrite and humble" (the "wicked") are characterized by:

No rest. Lots of messes ("mire and dirt")

:21 There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.

peaceshalowm – completeness, soundness, welfare, peace

wickedrasha‘– wicked, criminal

:15 with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

contritedakka’ – dust; contrite; from daka’ – to crush, be crushed, be contrite, be broken

humbleshaphal – low, humble; low (in station), humble (of condition or spirit)

revivechayah – to live, have life; (Hiphil) to preserve alive, let live; to quicken, revive; to restore (to health); to revive; to restore to life


God gives life to the contrite and humble

This is the key to the whole passage. If you want God’s forgiveness, peace, and healing, you need brokenness and humility.

(Psa 51 KJV) To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. {2} Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. {3} For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. {4} Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. {5} Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. {6} Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. {7} Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. {8} Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. {9} Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. {10} Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. {11} Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. {12} Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. {13} Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. {14} Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. {15} O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall show forth thy praise. {16} For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. {17} The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. {18} Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem. {19} Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.