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Isaiah 8:14

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

And he shall be for a sanctuary "And he shall be unto you a sanctuary" - The word לכם lachem, unto you, absolutely necessary, as I conceive, to the sense, is lost in this place: it is preserved by the Vulgate, "et erit vobis in sanctificationem." The Septuagint have it in the singular number: εσται σοι εις ἁγιασμον, it shall be to Thee. Or else, instead of מקדש mikdash, a sanctuary, we must read מוקש mokesh, a snare, which would then be repeated without any propriety or elegance, at the end of the verse. The Chaldee reads instead of it משפט mishpat, judgment; for he renders it by פורען purean, which word frequently answers to משפט mishpat in his paraphrase. One MS. has in stead of ולאבן מקדש mikdash uleeben, לאבן להם lahem leeben, which clears the sense and construction. But the reading of the Vulgate is, I think, the best remedy to this difficulty; and is in some degree authorized by להם lahem, the reading of the MS. above mentioned.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And he shall be for a sanctuary - The word translated sanctuary means, literally, a holy place, a consecrated place, and is usually applied to the tabernacle, or to the temple; Exodus 25:8; Leviticus 12:4; Leviticus 21:12; Jeremiah 51:51. It also means an asylum, or a refuge, to which one might flee in case of danger, and be safe; see Ezekiel 11:16. Among all ancient nations, temples were regarded as safe places to which people might flee when pursued, and when in danger. It was deemed sacrilege to tear a man away from a temple or an altar. That the temple was so regarded among the Jews is manifest; see 1 Kings 1:50; 1 Kings 2:28. In allusion to this, the prophet says, that Yahweh would be a sanctuary; that is, an asylum, or refuge, to whom they should flee in times of danger, and be safe; see Psalm 46:1: ‹God is our refuge and strength;‘ Proverbs 18:10: ‹The name of the Loan is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.‘ It is also well known that temples and altars were regarded as asyla among the Greeks and Romans. The reference here is rather to an altar, as the asylum, than to a city or temple; as, in the other member of the sentence, the same object is said to be a stone of stumbling - a figure which would not be applicable to a temple or a city.

A stone of stumbling - A stone against which one should impinge, or over which he should fall. The idea is, that none could run against a hard, rough, fixed stone, or rock, without injuring himself. So the Jews would oppose the counsels of God; instead of making him their refuge and strength, they would resist his claims and appeals, and the consequence would be their destruction. It is also to be remembered, that God is often represented in the Scriptures as a rock, a firm defense, or place of safety, to those who trust in him. But instead of their thus taking refuge in him, they would oppose themselves to this firm rock, and ruin themselves; see Deuteronomy 32:4, Deuteronomy 32:15, Deuteronomy 32:18, Deuteronomy 32:30-31, Deuteronomy 32:37; Psalm 19:14; Psalm 28:1; Psalm 31:2, Psalm 31:8; Psalm 41:2; Psalm 42:9. Many of the ancient Jewish commentators applied this to the Messiah. - Gesenius in loc. It is also applied to Christ in the New Testament, 1 Peter 2:8.

A rock of offence - A rock over which they should fall. The English word offence, had that meaning formerly, and retains it in our translation of the Bible.

To both the houses of Israel - To the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel; that is, to the wicked portion of them, not to those who were truly pious.

For a gin - A net, or snare, to take birds. The idea is the same as in the former part of the verse. By rejecting the counsel of God; by despising his protection, and by resisting his laws, they would be unexpectedly involved in difficulties, as birds which are caught in a snare.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The prophet challenges the enemies of the Jews. Their efforts would be vain, and themselves broken to pieces. It concerns us, in time of trouble, to watch against all such fears as put us upon crooked courses for our own security. The believing fear of God preserves against the disquieting fear of man. If we thought rightly of the greatness and glory of God, we should see all the power of our enemies restrained. The Lord, who will be a Sanctuary to those who trust in him, will be a Stone of stumbling, and a Rock of offence, to those who make the creature their fear and their hope. If the things of God be an offence to us, they will undo us. The apostle quotes this as to all who persisted in unbelief of the gospel of Christ, 1Pe 2:8. The crucified Emmanuel, who was and is a Stumbling-stone and Rock of offence to unbelieving Jews, is no less so to thousands who are called Christians. The preaching of the cross is foolishness in their esteem; his doctrines and precepts offend them.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, 461

Let all who realize the nearness of the Lord's coming act their faith. When we see one of God's instrumentalities languishing, let those who have heart and soul in the work manifest their interest. 6T 461.1

Let those in responsible positions set a right example. Every noble Christian instinct should lead them to plan and work with far greater earnestness for the relief of the Lord's institution than they would for the saving of their own property. Let all try to do something. Look over your affairs, and see what you can do to co-operate with God in this work. 6T 461.2

Since there is decided sympathy between heaven and earth, and since God commissions angels to minister unto all who are in need of help, we know that if we do our part, these heavenly representatives of omnipotent power will give help in this time of need. If we will become one in mind and heart with the heavenly intelligences, we can be worked by them. Men to whom God has entrusted capabilities and talents of means will be impressed by Him to take on the burden of responsibility, and help our Scandinavian brethren. 6T 461.3

The cause of God in Europe is not to become a stone of stumbling or a rock of offense to unbelievers. The institutions there are not to be closed or given into the hands of worldlings. Let the Lord's servants in Europe make every effort in their power to recover what has been lost, and the Lord will work with them. And I call upon our people in America to co-operate with their brethren in Europe. If all will act their part in His great plan, God's purpose will be accomplished. The difficulty will soon be in the past, no more to harass the cause of God. 6T 461.4

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Ellen G. White
The Great Controversy, 339

As God sent His servant to warn the world of the coming Flood, so He sent chosen messengers to make known the nearness of the final judgment. And as Noah's contemporaries laughed to scorn the predictions of the preacher of righteousness, so in Miller's day many, even of the professed people of God, scoffed at the words of warning. GC 339.1

And why were the doctrine and preaching of Christ's second coming so unwelcome to the churches? While to the wicked the advent of the Lord brings woe and desolation, to the righteous it is fraught with joy and hope. This great truth had been the consolation of God's faithful ones through all the ages; why had it become, like its Author, “a stone of stumbling” and “a rock of offense” to His professed people? It was our Lord Himself who promised His disciples: “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself.” John 14:3. It was the compassionate Saviour, who, anticipating the loneliness and sorrow of His followers, commissioned angels to comfort them with the assurance that He would come again in person, even as He went into heaven. As the disciples stood gazing intently upward to catch the last glimpse of Him whom they loved, their attention was arrested by the words: “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11. Hope was kindled afresh by the angels’ message. The disciples “returned to Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God.” Luke 24:52, 53. They were not rejoicing because Jesus had been separated from them and they were left to struggle with the trials and temptations of the world, but because of the angels’ assurance that He would come again. GC 339.2

The proclamation of Christ's coming should now be, as when made by the angels to the shepherds of Bethlehem, good tidings of great joy. Those who really love the Saviour cannot but hail with gladness the announcement founded upon the word of God that He in whom their hopes of eternal life are centered is coming again, not to be insulted, despised, and rejected, as at His first advent, but in power and glory, to redeem His people. It is those who do not love the Saviour that desire Him to remain away, and there can be no more conclusive evidence that the churches have departed from God than the irritation and animosity excited by this Heaven-sent message. GC 339.3

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 598-9

“Sanctify the Lord of hosts Himself; and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread. And He shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.” Carried down in prophetic vision to the first advent, the prophet is shown that Christ is to bear trials and tests of which the treatment of the chief cornerstone in the temple of Solomon was symbolic. “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” Isaiah 8:13-15; 28:16. DA 598.1

In infinite wisdom, God chose the foundation stone, and laid it Himself. He called it “a sure foundation.” The entire world may lay upon it their burdens and griefs; it can endure them all. With perfect safety they may build upon it. Christ is a “tried stone.” Those who trust in Him, He never disappoints. He has borne every test. He has endured the pressure of Adam's guilt, and the guilt of his posterity, and has come off more than conqueror of the powers of evil. He has borne the burdens cast upon Him by every repenting sinner. In Christ the guilty heart has found relief. He is the sure foundation. All who make Him their dependence rest in perfect security. DA 598.2

In Isaiah's prophecy, Christ is declared to be both a sure foundation and a stone of stumbling. The apostle Peter, writing by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, clearly shows to whom Christ is a foundation stone, and to whom a rock of offense: DA 599.1

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Ellen G. White
Prophets and Kings, 330

“The Lord brought Judah low” because of continued transgression. In this time of chastisement Ahaz, instead of repenting, trespassed “yet more against the Lord: ... for he sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus.” “Because the gods of the kings of Syria help them,” he said, “therefore will I sacrifice to them, that they may help me.” 2 Chronicles 28:19, 22, 23. PK 330.1

As the apostate king neared the end of his reign, he caused the doors of the temple to be closed. The sacred services were interrupted. No longer were the candlesticks kept burning before the altar. No longer were offerings made for the sins of the people. No longer did sweet incense ascend on high at the time of the morning and the evening sacrifice. Deserting the courts of the house of God and locking fast its doors, the inhabitants of the godless city boldly set up altars for the worship of heathen deities on the street corners throughout Jerusalem. Heathenism had seemingly triumphed; the powers of darkness had well-nigh prevailed. PK 330.2

But in Judah there dwelt some who maintained their allegiance to Jehovah, steadfastly refusing to be led into idolatry. It was to these that Isaiah and Micah and their associates looked in hope as they surveyed the ruin wrought during the last years of Ahaz. Their sanctuary was closed, but the faithful ones were assured: “God is with us.” “Sanctify the Lord of hosts Himself; and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread. And He shall be for a sanctuary.” Isaiah 8:10, 13, 14. PK 330.3

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