The altars, the work of his hands "The altars dedicated to the work of his hands" - The construction of the words, and the meaning of the sentence, in this place are not obvious; all the ancient Versions, and most of the modern, have mistaken it. The word מעשה maaseh, "the work," stands in regimine with מזבחות mizbechoth, "altars," not in opposition to it; it means the, altars of the work of their hand; that is of the idols, which are the work of their hands. Thus Kimchi has explained it, and Le Clerc has followed him.
And he shall not look to the altars - That is, the altars of the gods which the Syrians worshipped, and the altars of the false gods which had been erected in the land of Israel or Samaria by its wicked kings, and particularly by Ahaz. Ahaz fancied an altar which he saw at Damascus when on a visit to Tiglath-pileser, and ordered Urijah the priest to construct one like it in Samaria, on which he subsequently offered sacrifice 2 Kings 16:10-13. It is well known, also, that the kings of Israel and Judah often reared altars to false gods in the high places and the groves of the land (see 2 Kings 21:3-5). The Ephraimites were particularly guilty in this respect Hosea 8:11: ‹Because Ephraim hath made many altars to sin, altars shall be unto him to sin.‘
Which his fingers have made - Perhaps indicating that the idols which they worshipped had been constructed with special art and skill (see Isaiah 2:8).
Either the groves - The altars of idols were usually erected in groves, and idols were worshipped there before temples were raised (see Exodus 34:13; Deuteronomy 7:5; Deuteronomy 12:3; Judges 3:7; 1 Kings 14:23; 1 Kings 18:19; 2 Chronicles 33:3; compare the notes at Isaiah 1:29).
Or the images - Margin, ‹Sun images‘ (חמנים chamānı̂ym ). This word is used to denote idols in general in Leviticus 26:30; 2 Chronicles 24:4. But it is supposed to denote properly images erected to the sun, and to be derived from חמה chamāh “the sun.” Thus the word is used in Job 30:28; Isaiah 24:23; Isaiah 30:26; Job 31:26).
Do not listen to the enemy's suggestion to stay away from Christ until you have made yourself better, until you are good enough to come to God. If you wait until then you will never come. When Satan points to your filthy garments, repeat the promise of the Saviour, “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37. Tell the enemy that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin. Make the prayer of David your own: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:7. PK 320.1
The exhortations of the prophet to Judah to behold the living God, and to accept His gracious offers, were not in vain. There were some who gave earnest heed, and who turned from their idols to the worship of Jehovah. They learned to see in their Maker love and mercy and tender compassion. And in the dark days that were to come in the history of Judah, when only a remnant were to be left in the land, the prophet's words were to continue bearing fruit in decided reformation. “At that day,” declared Isaiah, “shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel. And he shall not look to the altars, the work of his hands, neither shall respect that which his fingers have made, either the groves, or the images.” Isaiah 17:7, 8. PK 320.2
Many were to behold the One altogether lovely, the chiefest among ten thousand. “Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty,” was the gracious promise made them. Isaiah 33:17. Their sins were to be forgiven, and they were to make their boast in God alone. In that glad day of redemption from idolatry they would exclaim, “The glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams.... The Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; He will save us.” Verses 21, 22. PK 321.1Read in context »