I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins "I have made thy transgressions vanish away like a cloud, and thy sins like a vapor" - Longinus admired the sublimity of the sentiment, as well as the harmony of the numbers, in the following sentence of Demosthenes: Τουτο το ψηφισμα τον τοτε τῃ πολει τερισταντα κινδυνον παρελθειν εποιησεν ὡσπερ νεφος . "This decree made the danger then hanging over the city pass away like a cloud." Probably Isaiah alludes here to the smoke rising up from the sin-offering, dispersed speedily by the wind. and rendered invisible. He who offered his sacriflce aright was as sure that the sin for which he offered it was blotted out, as that the smoke of the sacrifice was dispersed by the wind, and was no longer discernible.
I have blotted out - The word used here (מחח mâchâh ), means properly “to wipe away,” and is often applied to sins, as if the account was wiped off, or as we express it, blotted out (Psalm 51:3, Psalm 51:11; see the note at Isaiah 43:25). The phrase, ‹to blot out sins like a cloud,‘ however, is unusual, and the idea not very obvious. The true idea would be expressed by rendering it, ‹I have made them to vanish as a thick cloud;‘ and the sense is, as the wind drives away a thick cloud, however dark and frowning it may be, so that the sky is clear and serene, so God had caused their sins to disappear, and had removed the storm of his anger. Nothing can more strikingly represent sin in its nature and consequences, than a dense, dark, frowning cloud that comes over the heavens, and shuts out the sun, and fills the air with gloom; and nothing can more beautifully represent the nature and effect of pardon than the idea of removing such a cloud, and leaving the sky pure, the air calm and serene, and the sun pouring down his beams of warmth and light on the earth. So the soul of the sinner is enveloped and overshadowed with a dense cloud; but pardon dissipates that cloud, and it is calm, and joyful, and serene.
And as a cloud - The Chaldee render this, ‹As a flying cloud.‘ The difference between the two words rendered here ‹thick cloud,‘ and ‹cloud‘ (עב ‛âb and ענן ‛ânân ) is, that the former is expressive of a cloud as dense, thick, compact; and the latter as covering or veiling the heavens. Lowth renders the latter word ‹Vapour;‘ Noyes, ‹Mist.‘ Both words, however, usually denote a cloud. A passage similar to this is found in Demosthenes, as quoted by Lowth: ‹This decree made the danger then hanging over the city pass away like a cloud.
Return unto me - Since your sins are pardoned, and such mercy has been shown, return now, and serve me. The argument here is derived from the mercy of God in forgiving them, and the doctrine is, that the fact that God has forgiven us imposes the strongest obligations to devote ourselves to his service. The fact that we are redeemed and pardoned is the highest argument why we should consecrate all our powers to him who has purchased and forgiven us.
God does not deal with us as finite men deal with one another. His thoughts are thoughts of mercy, love, and tenderest compassion. He says, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins.” Isaiah 55:7; 44:22. SC 53.1
“I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” Ezekiel 18:32. Satan is ready to steal away the blessed assurances of God. He desires to take every glimmer of hope and every ray of light from the soul; but you must not permit him to do this. Do not give ear to the tempter, but say, “Jesus has died that I might live. He loves me, and wills not that I should perish. I have a compassionate heavenly Father; and although I have abused His love, though the blessings He has given me have been squandered, I will arise, and go to my Father, and say, ‘I have sinned against heaven, and before Thee, and am no more worthy to be called Thy son: make me as one of Thy hired servants.’” The parable tells you how the wanderer will be received: “When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” Luke 15:18-20. SC 53.2
But even this parable, tender and touching as it is, comes short of expressing the infinite compassion of the heavenly Father. The Lord declares by His prophet, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.” Jeremiah 31:3. While the sinner is yet far from the Father's house, wasting his substance in a strange country, the Father's heart is yearning over him; and every longing awakened in the soul to return to God is but the tender pleading of His Spirit, wooing, entreating, drawing the wanderer to his Father's heart of love. SC 54.1Read in context »
We may claim the blessed assurance, “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions” (Isaiah 44:22). Thy “sins, which are many, are forgiven” (Luke 7:47). O how precious, how refreshing, is the sunlight of God's love! The sinner may look upon his sin-stained life, and say, “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died” (Romans 8:34). “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20). Christ the Restorer plants a new principle of life in the soul, and that plant grows and produces fruit. The grace of Christ purifies while it pardons, and fits men for a holy heaven. We are to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ until we reach the full stature of men and women in Christ. O that we might all reach the high standard which God has set before us, and no longer remain dwarfs in the religious life! What beams of light would be reflected to the world in good works if we should become light bearers such as God would have us!32 TMK 336.5Read in context »