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Isaiah 33:14

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The sinners in Zion are afraid - Zion has been generally considered as a type of the Church of God. Now all the members of God's Church should be holy, and given to good works; sinners in Zion, therefore, are portentous beings! but, alas! where are they not? The Targum on this verse is worthy of notice: "The sinners in Zion are broken down; fear hath seized the ungodly, who are suffering for their ways. They say, Who among us shall dwell in Zion, where the splendor of the Divine Majesty is like a consuming fire? Who of us shall dwell in Jerusalem, where the ungodly are judged and delivered into hell for an eternal burning?" Everdurynge brennyngis. Old MS. Bible.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

The sinners in Zion are afraid - This verse is evidently designed to describe the alarm that was produced in Jerusalem on impenitent sinners and hypocrites by a view of the judgment of God on the army of Sennacherib. They would see his wrath on his enemies then, and in view of the terrors of his indignation in relation to that army they would be alarmed, and would ask how it would be possible for them to endure such wrath forever. If the effect of the wrath of God even for a night, when it should blaze against that great army, was so terrible, how could it be borne forever? This seems to be the general idea of the passage. A great variety of interpretations have been proposed, which may be seen in Vitringa and Poole. The phrase, ‹sinners in Zion‘ here refers to the wicked and rebellious in Jerusalem.

Fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites - Those who professed to serve God, and yet who were secretly depending on the aid of Egypt (see Isaiah 31:1-9; compare the note at Isaiah 9:17). The sentiment here is, that those who professedly are the friends of God, but who are secretly and really his enemies, are often alarmed at his judgments. When the judgments of God overtake sinners, they are conscious that they deserve also his wrath, and their minds are filled with consternation. So in a time of prevailing sickness, or of pestilence, they who have really no confidence in God, and no evidence that they are prepared to die, are filled with alarm. A true friend of God will be calm in such scenes; a hypocrite will show by his consternation that he has no religion.

Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? - Some have understood this as referring to the fires which they supposed the Assyrian would kindle in Jerusalem, apprehending that he would take and burn the city. But the more probable interpretation is that which refers it to the judgment that would be brought upon the Assyrians - the burning wrath of God like fire that would consume them. The destruction of the Assyrians is repeatedly represented under the image of a storm and tempest, where there would be the ‹flame of devouring fire‘ (see the note at Isaiah 29:6). The sense is this: ‹God has suddenly consumed that immense army of his foes. Such must be the awful punishment of the wicked. How can we abide it? We also, through among his people, are his foes, and are exposed to his wrath. How can we endure the terrors of that day when his burning indignation shall also overtake us?‘

Shall dwell with everlasting burnings - Who among us could endure to suffer amid such burning wrath forever? If that wrath is so fierce as to consume such an immense host in a single night, who could abide it should it be continued forever and forever? This is the obvious sense of this passage; and it implies:

1. That hypocrites will be greatly alarmed when they see punishment come upon the open and avowed enemies of God.

2. That in such times they will have none of the peace and quiet confidence which his true friends have.

3. That such an alarm is evidence of conscious guilt and hypocrisy.

4. That the persons here spoken of had a belief of the doctrine of eternal punishment - a belief which hypocrites and sinners always have, else why should they be alarmed?

5. That the punishment of hypocrites in the church will be dreadful and terrific. This seems to have been the conviction here. They saw that if such judgments came upon those who had no knowledge of the true God, it must be infinitely more terrible on those who had been trained amidst the institutions of religion, and who had professed attachment to Yahweh. And so it will be in a preeminent degree among those who have been trained in the Christian church, and who have been the professed but insincere followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Here we have the proud and false destroyer justly reckoned with for all his fraud and violence. The righteous God often pays sinners in their own coin. Those who by faith humbly wait for God, shall find him gracious to them; as the day, so let the strength be. If God leaves us to ourselves any morning, we are undone; we must every morning commit ourselves to him, and go forth in his strength to do the work of the day. When God arises, his enemies are scattered. True wisdom and knowledge lead to strength of salvation, which renders us stedfast in the ways of God; and true piety is the only treasure which can never be plundered or spent. The distress Jerusalem was brought into, is described. God's time to appear for his people, is, when all other helpers fail. Let all who hear what God has done, acknowledge that he can do every thing. Sinners in Zion will have much to answer for, above other sinners. And those that rebel against the commands of the word, cannot take its comforts in time of need. His wrath will burn those everlastingly who make themselves fuel for it. It is a fire that shall never be quenched, nor ever go out of itself; it is the wrath of an ever-living God preying on the conscience of a never-dying soul.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 123

I saw that the people of God must arouse and put on the armor. Christ is coming, and the great work of the last message of mercy is of too much importance for us to leave it and come down to answer such falsehoods, misrepresentations, and slanders as the Messenger party have fed upon and have scattered abroad. Truth, present truth, we must dwell upon it. We are doing a great work, and cannot come down. Satan is in all this, to divert our minds from the present truth and the coming of Christ. Said the angel: “Jesus knows it all.” In a little from this their day is coming. All will be judged according to the deeds done in the body. The lying tongue will be stopped. The sinners in Zion will be afraid, and fearfulness will surprise the hypocrites. 1T 123.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 528

We must have a converted ministry. The efficiency and power attending a truly converted minister would make the hypocrites in Zion tremble and sinners afraid. The standard of truth and holiness is trailing in the dust. If those who sound the solemn notes of warning for this time could realize their accountability to God they would see the necessity for fervent prayer. When the cities were hushed in midnight slumber, when every man had gone to his own house, Christ, our Example, would repair to the Mount of Olives, and there, amid the overshadowing trees, would spend the entire night in prayer. He who was Himself without the taint of sin,—a treasure house of blessing; whose voice was heard in the fourth watch of the night by the terrified disciples upon the stormy sea, in heavenly benediction; and whose word could summon the dead from their graves,—He it was who made supplication with strong crying and tears. He prayed not for Himself, but for those whom He came to save. As He became a suppliant, seeking at the hand of His Father fresh supplies of strength, and coming forth refreshed and invigorated as man's substitute, He identified Himself with suffering humanity and gave them an example of the necessity of prayer. 4T 528.1

His nature was without the taint of sin. As the Son of man, He prayed to the Father, showing that human nature requires all the divine support which man can obtain that he may be braced for duty and prepared for trial. As the Prince of life He had power with God and prevailed for His people. This Saviour, who prayed for those that felt no need of prayer, and wept for those that felt no need of tears, is now before the throne, to receive and present to His Father the petitions of those for whom He prayed on earth. The example of Christ is for us to follow. Prayer is a necessity in our labor for the salvation of souls. God alone can give the increase of the seed we sow. 4T 528.2

We fail many times because we do not realize that Christ is with us by His Spirit as truly as when, in the days of His humiliation, He moved visibly upon the earth. The lapse of time has wrought no change in His parting promise to His apostles as He was taken up from them into heaven: “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” He has ordained that there should be a succession of men who derive authority from the first teachers of the faith for the continual preaching of Christ and Him crucified. The Great Teacher has delegated power to His servants, who “have this treasure in earthen vessels.” Christ will superintend the work of His ambassadors if they wait for His instruction and guidance. 4T 529.1

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Ellen G. White
Prophets and Kings, 725

“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper;
And every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment
thou shalt condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
And their righteousness is of Me, saith the Lord.”
PK 725.1

Isaiah 25:8; 62:12; Isaiah 61:3; 52:1, 2; Isaiah 54:11-17. PK 725

Clad in the armor of Christ's righteousness, the church is to enter upon her final conflict. “Fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners” (Song of Solomon 6:10), she is to go forth into all the world, conquering and to conquer. PK 725.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 446

The words of Christ are plain: “Strive [agonize] to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” Not all professed Christians are Christians at heart. There are sinners in Zion now, as there were anciently. Isaiah speaks of them in referring to the day of God: “The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly, he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil; he shall dwell on high: his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.” 2T 446.1

There are hypocrites now who will tremble when they obtain a view of themselves. Their own vileness will terrify them in that day which is soon to come upon us, a day when “the Lord cometh out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity.” Oh, that terror might now lay hold upon them, that they might have a vivid sense of their condition and arouse while there is mercy and hope, confess their sins, and humble their souls greatly before God, that He might pardon their transgressions and heal their backslidings! The people of God are unready for the fearful, trying scenes before us, unready to stand pure from evil and lust amid the perils and corruptions of this degenerate age. They have not on the armor of righteousness, and are unprepared to war against the prevailing iniquity. Many are not obeying the commandments of God, yet they profess so to do. If they would be faithful to obey all the statutes of God they would have a power which would carry conviction to the hearts of the unbelieving. 2T 446.2

I have sought to do my duty. I have pointed out the special sins of some. I was shown that in the wisdom of God the sins and errors of all would not be revealed. All would have sufficient light to see their sins and errors, if they desired to do so and earnestly wished to put them away, and to perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord. They could see what sins God marked and reproved in others. If these were cherished by themselves, they should know that they were abhorred of God and were separated from Him; and that unless they earnestly and zealously set about the work of putting them away they would be left in darkness. God is too pure to behold iniquity. A sin is just as grievous in His sight in one case as in another. No exception will be made by an impartial God. All who are guilty are addressed in these individual testimonies, although their names may not be attached to the special testimony borne; and if individuals pass over and cover up their own sins because their names are not especially called, they will not be prospered of God. They cannot advance in the divine life, but will become darker and darker, until the light of heaven will be entirely withdrawn. 2T 447.1

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