Give ye ear, and hear my voice "Listen ye, and hear my voice" - The foregoing discourse, consisting of severe reproofs, and threatenings of dreadful judgments impending on the Jews for their vices, and their profane contempt of God's warnings by his messengers, the prophet concludes with an explanation and defense of God's method of dealing with his people in an elegant parable or allegory; in which he employs a variety of images, all taken from the science of agriculture. As the husbandman uses various methods in preparing his land, and adapting it to the several kinds of seeds to be sown, with a due observation of times and seasons; and when he hath gathered in his harvest, employs methods as various in separating the corn from the straw and the chaff by different instruments, according to the nature of the different sorts of grain; so God, with unerring wisdom, and with strict justice, instructs, admonishes, and corrects his people; chastises and punishes them in various ways, as the exigence of the case requires; now more moderately, now more severely; always tempering justice with mercy; in order to reclaim the wicked, to improve the good, and, finally, to separate the one from the other.
Give ye ear - In this verse the prophet introduces an important and striking illustration drawn from the science of agriculture. It is connected with the preceding part of the chapter, and is designed to show the propriety of what the prophet had said by an appeal to what they all observed in the cultivation of their lands. The previous discourse consists mainly of reproofs and of threatenings of punishment on God‘s people for their profane contempt of the messengers of God. He had threatened to destroy their nation, and so remove them for a time to a distant land. This the prophet had himself said Isaiah 28:21 was his ‹strange work.‘ To vindicate this and to show the propriety “of God‘s adopting every measure, and of not always pursuing the same course in regard to his people,” he draws an illustration from the farmer. He is not always doing the same thing. He adopts different methods to secure a harvest.
He adapts his plans to the soil and to the kind of grain; avails himself of the best methods of preparing the ground, sowing the seed, collecting the harvest, and of separating the grain from the chaff. He does not always plow; nor always sow; nor always thresh. He does not deal with all kinds of land and grain in the same way. Some land he plows in one mode, and some in another; and in like manner, some grain he threshes in one mode, and some in another - adapting his measures to the nature of the soil, and of the grain. Some grain he beats out with a flail; some he bruises; but yet he will be careful not to break the kernel, or destroy it in threshing it. However severe may appear to be his blows, yet his object is not to crush and destroy it Isaiah 28:28, but it is to remove it from the chaff, and to save it. In all this he acts the part of wisdom, for God has taught him what to do Isaiah 28:26, Isaiah 28:29. So, says the prophet, God will not deal with all of his people in the same manner, nor with them always in the same mode. He will vary his measures as a farmer does. When mild and gentle measures will do, he will adopt them. When severe measures are necessary, he will resort to them. His object is not to destroy his people, anymore than the object of the farmer in threshing is to destroy his grain. The general dedicate the propriety of God‘s engaging in what the prophet calls his ‹strange act,‘ and ‹strange work,‘ in punishing his people. The allegory is one of great beauty, and its pertinency and keeping are maintained throughout; and it furnishes a most important practical lesson in regard to the mode in which God deals with his people.
Skill in the common arts is a gift from God. He provides both the gift and wisdom to use the gift aright. When He desired a work done on the tabernacle He said, “See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship.” Exodus 31:2, 3. Through the prophet Isaiah the Lord said, “Give ye ear, and hear My voice; hearken, and hear My speech. Doth the plowman plow all day to sow? doth he open and break the clods of his ground? When he hath made plain the face thereof, doth he not cast abroad the fitches, and scatter the cumin, and cast in the principal wheat and the appointed barley and the rye in their place? For his God doth instruct him to discretion, and doth teach him. CT 314.1
“For the fitches are not threshed with a threshing instrument, neither is a cart wheel turned about upon the cumin; but the fitches are beaten out with a staff, and the cumin with a rod. Bread corn is bruised; because he will not ever be threshing it, nor break it with the wheel of his cart, nor bruise it with his horsemen. This also cometh forth from the Lord of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.” Isaiah 28:23-29. CT 314.2
God dispenses His gifts as it pleases Him. He bestows one gift upon one, and another gift upon another, but all for the good of the whole body. It is in God's order that some shall be of service in one line of work, and others in other lines—all working under the selfsame Spirit. The recognition of this plan will be a safeguard against emulation, pride, envy, or contempt of one another. It will strengthen unity and mutual love. CT 314.3Read in context »