Isaiah 66 – Rejoicing in God’s Ultimate Victory
A. The LORD will repay His enemies.
1. (1-2) The greatness of God, and proper response of man.
Thus says the LORD:
“Heaven is My throne,
And earth is My footstool.
Where is the house that you will build Me?
And where is the place of My rest?
For all those things My hand has made,
And all those things exist,”
Says the LORD.
“But on this one will I look:
On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit,
And who trembles at My word.
a. Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool: Here, the LORD puts things back into proper perspective. We can never understand much of anything until we understand that the Lord GOD is enthroned in heaven, and that the earth is under His command – indeed, the earth is His footstool.
i. Stephen quoted Isaiah 66:1-2 in Acts 7:49-50, agreeing with Solomon and Isaiah about the greatness of God the Creator.
b. Where is the house that you will build Me?…. But on this one I will look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word: We may want to serve God – but serve Him our way. We may want to build God something, but what can we build that is worthy of God? Instead, what God really wants from us is a poor and a contrite spirit, and to tremble at His word.
i. Contrite is literally “‘lamed’ or disabled, here used with spiritual significance: one who is aware of the damage wrought by sin, of personal inability to stand upright before God.” (Motyer)
ii. Are you one of those who trembles at God’s word? “They tremble at the searching power of God’s Word. Do you never come into this place and sit down in the pew, and say, ‘Lord, grant that thy Word may search me and try me, that I may not be deceived’? Certain people must always have sweets and comforts; but God’s wise children do not wish for these in undue measure. Daily bread we ask for, not daily sugar.” (Spurgeon)
2. (3-4) God’s answer to empty religious ritual.
“He who kills a bull is as if he slays a man;
He who sacrifices a lamb, as if he breaks a dog’s neck;
He who offers a grain offering, as if he offers swine’s blood;
He who burns incense, as if he blesses an idol.
Just as they have chosen their own ways,
And their soul delights in their abominations,
So will I choose their delusions,
And bring their fears on them;
Because, when I called, no one answered,
When I spoke they did not hear;
But they did evil before My eyes,
And chose that in which I do not delight.”
a. He who kills a bull as if he slays a man: In the empty religious ritualism, God’s people thought they were pleasing God. But the LORD says that when a man kills a bull in sacrifice, it is as if he slays a man. Their religious ritualism added to their sin, it didn’t take it away.
b. Just as they have chosen their own ways…so will I choose their delusions: God’s people chose their rebellion against Him, and they persisted in it despite His continual warnings. As an extreme display of judgment, God will choose their delusions and send a delusion among them.
i. This is a sobering reminder of what God will do on the earth during the Great Tribulation, as described by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:11: God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie. But what will happen during the Great Tribulation is just the ultimate fruit of what God does all the time among men. When we reject God and seek our own delusion, He may send one to us.
ii. An example of this kind of delusion are those who believe that the world was created out of nothing or by chance. What could be more delusional than to believe that something can come from nothing? To believe that chance actually has some kind of “power”? Yet for those who insist on believing it, God will give them over to this delusion.
c. Because, when I called, no one answered, when I spoke they did not hear: How can we keep from being given over to a delusion? By answering the LORD when He calls, by hearing Him when He speaks. It’s really that simple.
3. (5-6) The LORD repays His enemies.
Hear the word of the LORD,
You who tremble at His word:
“Your brethren who hated you,
Who cast you out for My name’s sake, said,
‘Let the LORD be glorified,
That we may see your joy.’
But they shall be ashamed.”
The sound of noise from the city!
A voice from the temple!
The voice of the LORD,
Who fully repays His enemies!
a. Your brethren who hated you, who cast you out for My name’s sake, said, “Let the LORD be glorified, that we may see your joy.” Here, Isaiah shows how those with a shallow, empty religion mock those of genuine faith. First, empty religion hates genuine faith (hated you). Second, empty religion rejects true faith (cast you out). Third, empty religion acts in the name of the LORD (for My name’s sake). Fourth, empty religion mocks with spiritual sounding words (“Let the LORD be glorified, that we may see your joy”).
b. But they shall be ashamed: Most importantly, empty religion will never ultimately triumph. At the end of days, if not before, they shall be ashamed, when they hear the voice of the LORD, who fully repays His enemies!
B. The LORD comes with fire.
1. (7-11) Rejoicing in the deliverance of Jerusalem.
“Before she was in labor, she gave birth;
Before her pain came,
She delivered a male child.
Who has heard such a thing?
Who has seen such things?
Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day?
Or shall a nation be born at once?
For as soon as Zion was in labor,
She gave birth to her children.
Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?” says the LORD.
“Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?” says your God.
“Rejoice with Jerusalem,
And be glad with her, all you who love her;
Rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn for her;
That you may feed and be satisfied
With the consolation of her bosom,
That you may drink deeply and be delighted
With the abundance of her glory.”
a. Before she was in labor, she gave birth: Isaiah prophesies a day when the victory will come easily to Jerusalem, when she will be as the promise of Romans 8:37, more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Here, she gives birth – but without pain! Truly, who has heard such a thing?
b. Rejoice with Jerusalem: All God’s people are called to share in Jerusalem’s joy. The time of deliverance, victory, and vindication have come! Be glad with her, all you who love her! If God’s people will do this, it will be a blessing for them also: that you may feed and be satisfied with the consolation of her bosom.
i. This intense, great, rejoicing may sometimes make the world uncomfortable and make us the target of mocking. “Very seldom are believers nowadays charged with being fanatical, nor even with being too enthusiastic; and this is a sign that we are below the right heat. When the world calls us fanatics we are nearing that point of ardour which is our Lord’s due.” (Spurgeon)
2. (12-17) The LORD comes in judgment.
For thus says the LORD:
“Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river,
And the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream.
Then you shall feed;
On her sides shall you be carried,
And be dandled on her knees.
As one whom his mother comforts,
So I will comfort you;
And you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”
When you see this, your heart shall rejoice,
And your bones shall flourish like grass;
The hand of the LORD shall be known to His servants,
And His indignation to His enemies.
For behold, the LORD will come with fire
And with His chariots, like a whirlwind,
To render His anger with fury,
And His rebuke with flames of fire.
For by fire and by His sword
The LORD will judge all flesh;
And the slain of the LORD shall be many.
“Those who sanctify themselves and purify themselves,
To go to the gardens
After an idol in the midst,
Eating swine’s flesh and the abomination and the mouse,
Shall be consumed together,” says the LORD.
a. Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river: When the Messiah returns in glory and triumph, the peace of Jerusalem will be like a gentle, powerful river that is never disturbed. But not Jerusalem alone: And the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream.
b. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you: God speaks with supreme tenderness to His faithful servants. No one can comfort like a mother, and God will bring that kind of comfort to His people.
i. “This is a peculiarly delightful metaphor. A father can comfort, but I think he is not much at home in the work. When God speaks about his pity, he compares himself to their father: ‘Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth, them that fear him.’ But when he speaks about comfort, he selects the mother. When I have seen the little ones sick, I have felt all the pity in the world for them, but I did not know how to set to work to comfort them; but a mother knows by instinct how to do it.” (Spurgeon)
c. The hand of the LORD shall be known to His servants, and His indignation to His enemies: When the Messiah returns in glory and triumph, for some it will be a great blessing – and for others it is be nothing but judgment. Indeed, the LORD will judge all flesh; and the slain of the LORD shall be many.
d. Those who sanctify themselves and purify themselves, to go to the gardens, after an idol in the midst: When the Messiah returns in glory and triumph, He will see through those who practice empty religion. They “shall be consumed together,” says the LORD.
3. (18-21) The LORD gathers and restores His people.
“For I know their works and their thoughts. It shall be that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see My glory. I will set a sign among them; and those among them who escape I will send to the nations: to Tarshish and Pul and Lud, who draw the bow, and Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands afar off who have not heard My fame nor seen My glory. And they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles. Then they shall bring all your brethren for an offering to the LORD out of all nations, on horses and in chariots and in litters, on mules and on camels, to My holy mountain Jerusalem,” says the LORD, “as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the LORD. And I will also take some of them for priests and Levites,” says the LORD.
a. I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see My glory: God has promised a great regathering work among Israel; but He will also do a regathering work among the whole world, some from all nations and tongues to see His glory.
i. One place this finds ultimate fulfillment is around the throne of God (Revelation 5:9-10).
ii. “God says that He will set a sign among the nations. This sign is the same as the sign of the Son of man (Matthew 24:30).” (Bultema)
b. Those among them who escape I will send to the nations…to the coastlands afar off who have not heard My fame nor seen My glory: Isaiah makes prophetic reference to the missionary calling and work of God’s people. Of course, God had a missionary intent for Israel, that they would be a priesthood among the nations (Exodus 19:6) and a light to the Gentiles. But even more pointedly, God has commanded the church to the nations, to declare My glory among the Gentiles.
i. “They are sent to Tarshish (Spain, France and Italy) to Pul (a region in Africa) and to Lud, which according to some is the same as Libya, though it seems preferable to take Pul and Lud together for all of Africa. Tubal was a son of Japheth, whose descendants settled in north-eastern Europe or Russia and Javan is the biblical name for Greece.” (Bultema)
ii. In a limited sense, this is fulfilled by the missionary outreach of the church through centuries. But this is only a partial fulfillment. Ultimately, these may be the 144,000 witnesses during the Great Tribulation; they may be Jewish evangelists in the days of the millennial earth.
c. Then they shall bring all your brethren for an offering to the LORD out of all nations: As part of God’s ultimate work, as the missionaries go out, the people of Israel ultimately come back, in a magnificent regathering. This is partially fulfilled now in Israel’s regathered state; but will be ultimately fulfilled in the millennial earth of the Messiah.
i. Many years ago there was a remarkable example of modern-day regathering from the Arutz 7 news agency in Israel:
“Thirty-seven members of the Bnei Menashe tribe in India – believed to be descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes – arrived in Israel on Friday. The new arrivals, many of whom have relatives in Israel among the 450 Bnei Menashe who have arrived within the last five years, were brought to Israel under the auspices of the Jerusalem-based Amishav organization. Amishav is dedicated to locating descendants of the Lost Tribes and returning them to the Jewish people. ‘This is a historic moment for the Jewish people,’ said Amishav founder and chairman Rabbi Eliyahu Avichail, who has devoted his life to finding and assisting the descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel. ‘After a lengthy and difficult separation, the Bnei Menashe are being reunited with the Jewish people in the Land of Israel. This is a triumph of faith. Their return to Zion marks the closing of a historical circle.’”
The Bnei Menashe, with a rich oral tradition tracing themselves back to the Israelite tribe of Menashe, continue to practice many uniquely Jewish customs. About 3,500 Bnei Menashe decided to formally return to the Jewish people about 30 years ago, and began living a fully Jewish life to the best of their ability in accordance with Jewish law. Rabbi Avichail learned of their existence about 20 years ago, and began to investigate their claims to Jewish ancestry. After making several visits there and carefully studying their claims and the relevant history, Rabbi Avichail consulted with leading rabbinical authorities and concluded that there is convincing evidence linking the Bnei Menashe with the Jewish people. Among the evidence, Rabbi Avichail notes their ancient tradition speaking of the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; their custom of circumcising male children on the 8th day after birth; and their sacrificial ceremony on an altar reminiscent of the Jewish Temple in which the Hebrew Biblical name of G-d, Mount Sinai, Mount Moriah and Mount Zion are mentioned.
d. And I will take some of them for priests and Levites: The idea is that in that day, God will extend the priesthood beyond its previous boundaries. This is ultimately fulfilled in the church because saints are called priests (1 Peter 2:5-9, Revelation 1:6, 5:10, 20:6).
i. “Just as in Isaiah’s day only some were priests and Levites, but through them Israel was constituted as the Lord’s priestly people, so now he foresees Gentiles incorporated on equal terms, into equal privileges.” (Motyer)
4. (22-24) The certainty of both the LORD’s judgment and His restoration.
“For as the new heavens and the new earth
Which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the LORD,
“So shall your descendants and your name remain.
And it shall come to pass
That from one New Moon to another,
And from one Sabbath to another,
All flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the LORD.
“And they shall go forth and look
Upon the corpses of the men
Who have transgressed against Me.
For their worm does not die,
And their fire is not quenched.
They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.”
a. And it shall come to pass…all flesh shall come to worship before Me: Here, God describes His ultimate triumph. Through the majestic book of Isaiah, the nations have been judged and often condemned. But God has an ultimate plan to reach the nations, seen in its ultimate fulfillment in Revelation 5:9-10. God will take people from every tribe and tongue, and “all flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the LORD.
i. Isaiah puts it into the context of from one New Moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me. Significantly, Isaiah began the book with a condemnation of the shallow worship of God’s people at the time of the New Moons and Sabbaths (Isaiah 1:12-15). Now, after the greatness of the LORD’s work, all that is different.
b. And they shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me: Some from every tribe and tongue will have a destiny of ultimate triumph; some also will have the destiny – freely chosen – of ultimate tragedy. Using the images of eternal damnation (their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched), Isaiah describes the fate of those who reject God – even if they had the veneer of empty religion.
i. “After this life, and at the day of judgment, they shall go into eternal torments; where they will feel a work of conscience that shall never die, and a fiery wrath of God upon their souls and bodies that shall never go out.” (Poole)
ii. The book of Isaiah closes with a sobering contrast, revealing the ultimate, eternal importance of this present life. Each life can choose its destiny: worship or the worm. Which is it for you?
(c) 2021 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – firstname.lastname@example.org
Isaiah 65 – The LORD Answers the Prayer of the Remnant
A. The immediate answer: The LORD will indeed bless His genuine servants.
1. (1-7) The LORD sees the shallow repentance of the remnant.
“I was sought by those who did not ask for Me;
I was found by those who did not seek Me.
I said, ‘Here I am, here I am,’
To a nation that was not called by My name.
I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people,
Who walk in a way that is not good,
According to their own thoughts;
A people who provoke Me to anger continually to My face;
Who sacrifice in gardens,
And burn incense on altars of brick;
Who sit among the graves,
And spend the night in the tombs;
Who eat swine’s flesh,
And the broth of abominable things is in their vessels;
Who say, ‘Keep to yourself,
Do not come near me,
For I am holier than you!’
These are smoke in My nostrils,
A fire that burns all the day.
“Behold, it is written before Me:
I will not keep silence, but will repay—
Even repay into their bosom—
Your iniquities and the iniquities of your fathers together,”
Says the LORD,
“Who have burned incense on the mountains
And blasphemed Me on the hills;
Therefore I will measure their former work into their bosom.”
a. I was sought by those who did not ask for Me: The Jewish exiles in Babylon were examples of those who did ask for the LORD; but they would not find Him, because for the most part they sought Him insincerely. Yet, God would be found by those who did not seek Him – namely, the Gentiles.
i. Isaiah 63:7-64:12 is the prayer of the remnant, voiced through the prophet Isaiah. It is one of the most beautiful and moving prayers in the Bible. Yet it does not seem to be representative of the heart of the Jewish exiles in Babylon. Here, God speaks to that heart, a heart with a shallow repentance.
ii. Paul quotes this passage in Romans 10:20-21: But Isaiah is very bold and says: “I was found by those who did not seek Me; I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me.” But to Israel he says: “All day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and contrary people.” These were bold words indeed from Isaiah, “so bold, say Origen and others, that for this cause, among others, he was sawn asunder by his unworthy countrymen.” (Trapp)
b. I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people: It wasn’t that the LORD had ignored the Jewish exiles in Babylon, and others like them. He stretched out His hands all day long to them. Some responded (like Daniel, or like the one prophetically praying in Isaiah 63:7-64:12), but most were a rebellious people.
c. Who walk in a way that is not good, according to their own thoughts: This defines what it is to be a rebellious people – simply, to walk in a way…according to their own thoughts. To trust in our own wisdom, our own judgment, our own thinking, is to be among the rebellious people.
i. This idea is repeated in several different places in Scripture. The phrase in the book of Judges that characterized the wickedness of that age shows it: everyone did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 17:6, 21:25). Proverbs expresses the idea like this: There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death (Proverbs 14:12, 16:25). To live according to their own thoughts may sound like freedom, but really it is bondage. God’s solution to living according to our own thoughts is revealed in Romans 12:2, to be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
d. A people who provoke Me to anger continually to My face: The walk of these people, according to their own thoughts, expresses itself in the most offensive and unholy ways before the LORD. The people sacrifice in gardens to idols. They sit among the graves, breaking the commands against contact with the dead (Numbers 19:11). They eat swine’s flesh and drink the broth of abominable things.
i. Each of these sins were grossly offensive to the LORD. It is tragic, but true, that walking according to our own thoughts will always lead us into direct, blatant, opposition to the LORD.
e. Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am holier than you: They could say this, even in the midst of such extreme offense before God. No wonder God considers such people as smoke in My nostrils. Therefore, judgment is promised to them: I will not keep silence, but will repay…your iniquities and the iniquities of your fathers together.
i. How could anyone think “I am holier than you!” when they were steeped in the sins described in this passage? This is a dramatic display of the blindness pride brings. They could say, “I am holier than you!” and really mean it, because of their complete blindness.
ii. Charles Spurgeon preached a sermon titled Self Righteousness – A Smouldering Heap of Rubbish on this text. In it, he describes how dangerous and insidious self-righteousness is. “Moreover, self-righteous men, like foxes, have many tricks and schemes. They condemn in other people what they consider to be very excusable in themselves. They would cry out against others for a tenth part of the sin which they allow in themselves: certain constitutional tendencies, and necessities of circumstances, and various surroundings, all serve as ample apologies. Besides this, if it be admitted that they are wrong upon some points, yet in other directions they are beyond rebuke. If they drink, they do not swear; and if they swear, they do not steal: they make a great deal out of negatives: if they steal, they are not greedy and miserly, but spend their gains freely. If they practice fornication, yet they do not commit adultery; if they talk filthily, yet they boast they do not lie. They would be counted well because they are not universally bad. They do not break every hedge, and therefore they plead that they are not trespassers. As if a debtor for a hundred pounds should claim to be excused because he does not owe two hundred: or, as if a highwayman should say, ‘I did not stop all the travellers on the road; I only robbed one or two, and therefore I ought not to be punished.’ If a man should willfully break the windows of your shop, I warrant you, you would not take it as an excuse if he pleaded, ‘I did not break them all; I only smashed one sheet of plate glass.’ Pleas which would not be mentioned in a human court are thought good enough to offer to God. O the folly of our race!” (Spurgeon)
iii. Spurgeon also focused his attention on the most religious of the self-righteous: “Those who come with the language of repentance but without the spirit of it, are sometimes the most self-righteous of all, for they say ‘I am all right because I am not self-righteous.’ They make a self-righteousness out of the supposed absence of self-righteousness. ‘Thank God,’ say they, ‘we are not as other men are, nor even as these self-righteous people.’ Hypocrites all the way through.”
iv. Man is so corrupt that he can be self-righteous over almost anything. “This weed of self-righteousness will grow on any dunghill. No heap of rubbish is too rotten for the accursed toadstool of proud self to grow upon.” (Spurgeon)
2. (8-16) A promise of blessing for the true servants of the LORD, and a promise of chastisement for the false or shallow servants of God.
Thus says the LORD:
“As the new wine is found in the cluster,
And one says, ‘Do not destroy it,
For a blessing is in it,’
So will I do for My servants’ sake,
That I may not destroy them all.
I will bring forth descendants from Jacob,
And from Judah an heir of My mountains;
My elect shall inherit it,
And My servants shall dwell there.
Sharon shall be a fold of flocks,
And the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down,
For My people who have sought Me.
“But you are those who forsake the LORD,
Who forget My holy mountain,
Who prepare a table for Gad,
And who furnish a drink offering for Meni.
Therefore I will number you for the sword,
And you shall all bow down to the slaughter;
Because, when I called, you did not answer;
When I spoke, you did not hear,
But did evil before My eyes,
And chose that in which I do not delight.”
Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:
“Behold, My servants shall eat,
But you shall be hungry; behold,
My servants shall drink,
But you shall be thirsty;
Behold, My servants shall rejoice,
But you shall be ashamed;
Behold, My servants shall sing for joy of heart,
But you shall cry for sorrow of heart,
And wail for grief of spirit.
You shall leave your name as a curse to My chosen;
For the Lord GOD will slay you,
And call His servants by another name;
So that he who blesses himself in the earth
Shall bless himself in the God of truth;
And he who swears in the earth
Shall swear by the God of truth;
Because the former troubles are forgotten,
And because they are hidden from My eyes.
a. “Do not destroy it, for a blessing is in it,” so will I do for My servants’ sake: Despite the unholy rebellion and pride of some of the remnant, God still has His servants, and He will bless and restore them. They will be regathered into His land, for He says: “My elect shall inherit it, and My servants shall dwell there.” He has a special place for My people who have sought Me.
i. The picture of Isaiah 65:8 is striking. The idea is that God finds a few “good grapes” among the corrupt cluster of His people. It is for the sake of these – for My servants’ sake – that the LORD shows blessing and restores.
ii. “Found suggests that the grapes were oozing as they were picked and that this was specially prized. Hence there is some good…. Marvelously, then, the Lord finds his people a blessing, and he prizes and guards them.” (Motyer)
iii. “If the Church had clearly understood this simple example, then, it would not have dared to teach Israel’s total rejection. Even as He would have saved Sodom for the sake of five righteous people, so He will spare Israel, His vine, for the sake of His servants, the cluster of good grapes.” (Bultema)
b. But you are those who forsake the LORD: Not all are numbered among the servants of the LORD. They are destined for judgment, because, when I called, you did not answer; when I spoke, you did not hear, but did evil before My eyes, and chose that in which I do not delight. On top of all their other sins is the sin of simply refusing to listen to God’s correction.
i. It is one thing for us to fall into sin through weakness or ignorance; such sin is indeed sin, and God must deal with it as such. But refusing to respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit is far worse. It is bad enough to be speeding down the highway; it is worse to ignore the flashing red lights in your rearview mirror.
ii. Wolf on Gad and Meni: “They were presenting offerings to the gods ‘Fortune’ and ‘Destiny,’ so their destiny would be the sword.”
c. Behold, My servants shall eat, but you shall be hungry: Because of this, the true servants of God among the remnant will be blessed, but the false servants will be cursed. Why? It is necessary, so that he who blesses himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth. If God does not reward His true servants, and curse His false servants, then God is not shown to be the God of truth.
i. The God of truth is literally “the God of (the) Amen…the God who says ‘amen’ to all his promises, affirming their reality and his trustworthiness to keep them.” (Motyer)
B. The ultimate answer: The LORD will redeem and remake all of creation.
1. (17-19) The promise of new heavens and a new earth.
For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create;
For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing,
And her people a joy.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
And joy in My people;
The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her,
Nor the voice of crying.
a. Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: As the ultimate answer to the problem of man’s sin, God will create new heavens and a new earth. This takes place after the millennium, the glorious thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ, when this very earth and sky is done away with and God makes new heavens and a new earth.
i. Peter used this promise to encourage believers to holy living: Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13). In the book of Revelation, John also sees this: Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea (Revelation 21:1).
ii. From John’s context we see that this new heavens and a new earth comes after the Great White Throne judgment (Revelation 20:11-15) and is connected not with the millennial earth, but with the eternal state. If all we had to go by was Isaiah’s statement, we would automatically connect this new heavens and a new earth with the millennial earth, because immediately after Isaiah 65:17-19, we clearly find the millennial earth described. But based on what we find in 2 Peter and Revelation, we must see that Isaiah is in the prophetic habit of switching quickly from one time frame to another, speaking of the eternal state in Isaiah 65:17, and of the millennial earth in Isaiah 65:20-25.
b. And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind: This is another indication that Isaiah 65:17 does not speak of the millennial earth. Other passages of Scripture referring to the millennium show that there will be definite remembrance of former times on the earth. The whole temple ritual existing in the millennial earth (Ezekiel 40-46) will be a remembrance of the former days of Levitical sacrifice. The former nations of the world will remain (after judgment) and will serve the LORD and Israel (Psalm 72).
c. I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing: There will be a Jerusalem in the eternal state, in the new heavens and a new earth. Revelation describes – in stunning imagery – the descent of the New Jerusalem from heaven to the new earth (Revelation 21:2-27). It is in this Jerusalem, the eternal New Jerusalem, that the voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, nor the voice of crying.
i. John clearly connects this promise to the New Jerusalem: And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:4).
2. (20-25) The blessed state of the millennial earth.
“No more shall an infant from there live but a few days,
Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days;
For the child shall die one hundred years old,
But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.
They shall build houses and inhabit them;
They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
They shall not build and another inhabit;
They shall not plant and another eat;
For as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people,
And My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
They shall not labor in vain,
Nor bring forth children for trouble;
For they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the LORD,
And their offspring with them.
“It shall come to pass
That before they call, I will answer;
And while they are still speaking, I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
The lion shall eat straw like the ox,
And dust shall be the serpent’s food.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,”
Says the LORD.
a. No more shall an infant from there live but a few days…for the child shall die one hundred years old: Quickly – as is the prophetic habit – Isaiah shifts gears, and now speaks not of the eternal state, but of the millennial earth. There will be death in the millennial earth, but in the transformed biology and ecology of the world under the reign of Jesus Christ, people will live incredibly longer, as they did in the days before the flood.
i. In the millennial earth, people will live so long that if someone dies being one hundred years old, people will consider that one accursed.
b. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit: The millennial reign of Jesus Christ will not only be a time of biological transformation; it will also be a time of social transformation when perfect justice reigns over the earth. Never again will someone be robbed of the fruits of their labor. If you build a house, no one will steal it from you. You will inhabit that house. If you plant vineyards, no one will steal the fruit of it. You will eat their fruit. God gloriously promises, My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
i. This may not sound like much, but for those who live in profoundly unjust times, this simple justice sounds like a miracle.
ii. One significant reason there will be such justice on the millennial earth is because Satan will be bound for these 1,000 years, unable to work his destructive mischief on the earth (Revelation 20:1-3).
c. They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth children for trouble; for they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them: There will be babies born and children raised in the millennial earth, and this is another indication that we are not in the eternal state. In the eternal state, we neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven (Matthew 22:30). In the millennial earth, those allowed to enter are blessed of the LORD, and they and their descendants will populate the earth.
d. It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear: The millennial reign of Jesus Christ will not only be a time of biological and social transformation. It will also be a time of profound spiritual transformation and intimacy. There will be an immediate and constant sense of the presence of God, and His knowledge will cover the earth (Isaiah 11:9).
i. This does not mean that everyone on the millennial earth will be saved; only that the opportunity for such close relationship will be widely enjoyed. We know that not all will be saved during the millennial earth because:
· At the conclusion of the time of the millennial earth, Satan is released from his confinement and finds many willing servants on the earth (Revelation 20:7-9), whom he gathers for one last – and strikingly futile – rebellion against God.
· Zechariah 14:16-19 and Psalm 2 describe the firm rule of the Messiah during the millennial earth, dealing decisively with those who do not surrender to His reign, enforcing righteousness all over the earth.
ii. Though not all will be saved on the millennial earth, we may suppose that the proportions will be reversed. Today, it is but a remnant that is saved because many are called but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14) and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:13-14). In the millennial earth, the few will be those who don’t know the LORD and are not saved.
iii. One of the reasons why most are saved and know the LORD on the millennial earth is because not all survivors of the Great Tribulation are allowed to populate the millennial earth. After the Great Tribulation – which in judgment reduces the population of the earth by at least a third (Revelation 9:15, 18) – Jesus Christ will return to the earth, and in the judgment of the nations, determine who will be allowed to populate the millennial earth (Matthew 25:32-34). The millennial earth will have a “screened” population, that in terms of righteousness, will not be perfect, but better than the present earth.
e. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together: The millennial earth will also see a remarkable ecological transformation. No longer will predators stalk their victims. Instead, even the wolf and the lamb will get along, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
f. “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,” says the LORD: This is the glorious result of the transformation that happens during the millennial earth. The world will be different biologically, spiritually, socially, and ecologically.
i. The Bible speaks powerfully to other aspects of the millennial earth. Tragically, the Church through history has often ignored or denied the promise of the millennial reign of Jesus Christ. The early church until Augustine almost universally believed in an earthly, historical reign of Jesus, initiated by His return. Tyconius (in the late 300’s) was the first to influentially champion a spiritualized interpretation, saying that this Millennium is now (amillennialism). His view was adopted by Augustine, the Roman Catholic Church and most Reformation theologians. Growing out of amillennialism is the doctrine of postmillennialism, saying the millennium will happen in this age before Jesus’ return – but that the church will bring it to pass. But the clear teaching of the Bible isn’t amillennialism or postmillennialism, but what is called premillennialism – the teaching that Jesus Christ will return to this earth before the millennial earth, and He will establish and govern it directly. There are more than 400 verses in more than 20 different passages in the Old Testament which deal with this time when Jesus Christ rules and reigns personally over planet earth.
· King David will have a prominent place in the millennial earth (Isaiah 55:3-5, Jeremiah 30:4-11, Ezekiel 34:23-31, Ezekiel 37:21-28, and Hosea 3:5).
· There will be blessing and security for national Israel in the millennial earth (Amos 9:11-15).
· The Millennium a time of purity and devotion to God (Zechariah 13:1-9).
· Israel will be a nation of prominence in the millennial earth (Ezekiel 17:22-24).
· There will be a rebuilt temple and restored temple service on the millennial earth (Ezekiel 40-48, Ezekiel 37:26-28, Amos 9:11, and Ezekiel 20:39-44).
· The New Testament specifically promises a literal reign of Jesus Christ (Luke 1:32-33).
· In their resurrected state, the saints will be given responsibility in the Millennial Earth according to their faithful service (Luke 19:11-27, Revelation 20:4-6, Revelation 2:26-28; Revelation 3:12, Revelation 3:21, and 1 Corinthians 6:2-3).
(c) 2021 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – email@example.com
Isaiah 64 – The Remnant Prays
A. Requesting and remembering God’s great works
1. (1-4) God’s people plead for Him to come in power and glory.
Oh, that You would rend the heavens!
That You would come down!
That the mountains might shake at Your presence—
As fire burns brushwood,
As fire causes water to boil—
To make Your name known to Your adversaries,
That the nations may tremble at Your presence!
Then You did awesome things for which we did not look,
You came down,
The mountains shook at Your presence.
For since the beginning of the world
Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear,
Nor has the eye seen any God besides You,
Who acts for the one who waits for Him.
a. Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down: The prayer of the remnant continues from Isaiah 63; here, the plea is for God to intervene from heaven.
b. The mountains shook at Your presence: Earlier in this prayer (Isaiah 63:11-13), the praying one remembered God’s great work for Israel in the days of the Exodus. Here, the praying one also remembers how the LORD shook Mount Sinai when Israel camped there on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land (Exodus 19:17-18).
c. Nor has the eye seen any God besides You, who acts for the one who waits for Him: The praying one now trusts that since he is one who waits for the LORD, he also will see God act on his behalf.
i. The one who waits for Him: “There is, however, a special blessing connected with waiting for the Lord. Men, even church-going men, would rather work than wait. They also love the legalism more than the holiness of waiting. Church leaders of today think waiting for the Lord is foolish dreaming.” (Bultema)
2. (5-7) The obstacle to God’s great works: our great sinfulness.
You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness,
Who remembers You in Your ways.
You are indeed angry, for we have sinned—
In these ways we continue;
And we need to be saved.
But we are all like an unclean thing,
And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
We all fade as a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind,
Have taken us away.
And there is no one who calls on Your name,
Who stirs himself up to take hold of You;
For You have hidden Your face from us,
And have consumed us because of our iniquities.
a. You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness: The praying one asks the question, “What kind of man does the LORD answer in prayer?” In Isaiah 64:4, he noted that it was the one who waits for the LORD. Now the praying one expands the idea, and notes that the LORD will answer the prayer (meet) for the one who rejoices and does righteousness. The LORD will answer the prayer of the one who remembers the LORD in his ways.
b. For we have sinned – in these ways we continue; and we need to be saved: This explains the problem. The praying remnant knows that God only answers the prayers of the righteous man, yet it isn’t the righteous man who needs to be saved from the disaster he has brought on himself. And we need to be saved is translated well by the NIV (New International Version) here as, How then can we be saved? The praying one then goes on to eloquently describe our state of sin.
i. First, our sin makes us like an unclean thing; it makes us unacceptable and unworthy before God. “Under the Jewish law you know that when a person was unclean he could not go up to the house of the Lord. He could offer no sacrifice. God could accept nothing at his hands; he was an outcast and an alien so long as he remained unclean.” (Spurgeon)
ii. Even all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags. The good we may try to do is unacceptable and unclean before the LORD. Because we are all like an unclean thing, even the good we do is polluted. “Brethren, if our righteousnesses are so bad, what must our unrighteousnesses be?” (Spurgeon)
iii. We all fade as a leaf. Our sinful condition has made us weak and unstable, with no lasting power before God.
iv. Our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away means that we have no power to stand against temptation. Our sins carry us along like a hurricane wind.
v. And there is no one who calls on Your name, who stirs himself up to take hold of You: Even in our unclean, unstable condition, we didn’t seek the LORD the way we should. We were lazy and complacent before the LORD.
vi. “The verbs sin and angry are perfect tenses – it was your fixed mind to be angry and ours to continue in sin.” (Motyer)
vii. Taken together, this is a fearful description of our fallenness: “You must not merely know that you are lost, but you must feel it. Do not be content with simply feeling that it is so, but mourn before God that it is so, and hate yourself that it is so. Do not look upon it as being a misfortune, but as being your own wilful sin, and look upon yourselves, therefore, as being guilty sinners.” (Spurgeon)
c. Filthy rags: “Filthy rags is ‘a garment of menstruation’; bodily discharges were considered a defilement because they were the ‘outflow’ of a sinful, fallen human nature. So, even what we might consider to be in our favour, righteous acts, partake of the defilement of fallenness.” (Motyer)
i. Preachers of previous generations thought this passage so extreme in its graphic description of sin’s likeness that it should not be preached honestly. “If preachers knew properly the meaning of this word, would they make such a liberal use of it in their public ministry?” (Clarke) “The expression, ‘filthy rags,’ in the Hebrew, is one which we could not with propriety explain in the present assembly. As the confession must be made privately and alone before God, so the full meaning of the comparison is not meant for human ear.” (Spurgeon)
ii. However extreme the phrasing, the point is important. Even the works that seem holiest from the outside can be corrupt and unrighteous. “Sirs, there is sin in our prayers; they need to be prayed over again. There is filth in the very tears that we shed in penitence; there is sin in our very holiness; there is unbelief in our faith; there is hatred in our very love; there is the slime of the serpent upon the fairest flower of our garden.” (Spurgeon)
iii. “Those that seek to be saved by their works, Luther fitly calleth the devil’s martyrs; they suffer much, and take great pains to go to hell…. We must do all righteousnesses, rest in none but Christ’s, disclaiming our own best as spotted and imperfect.” (Trapp)
d. You have hidden Your face from us: This is the first of two reactions God makes to the sinful condition of man. First, fellowship is broken, or at the very least, damaged. Second, the LORD has consumed us because of our iniquities. Our sinful condition has invited – even demanded – the righteous judgment of God.
B. A plea for the mercy of the LORD.
1. (8-9) Asking God to remember who His people are.
But now, O LORD,
You are our Father;
We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all we are the work of Your hand.
Do not be furious, O LORD,
Nor remember iniquity forever;
Indeed, please look—we all are Your people!
a. But now, O LORD, You are our Father: The praying one is in a desperate place; he needs the mercy of God because the justice of God condemns him. In his appeal for mercy, he first reminds God, “You are our Father. Please, LORD, have mercy on us as a loving Father.”
b. We are the clay, and You our potter: Next, the praying one appeals for God’s mercy because of God’s sovereign power over each life. It is like saying, “LORD we are like clay in Your hands. Deal gently with us, and mold us according to Your mercy.”
i. A father is always a father; he can never truly disown his children. A potter cannot disown the pot; it is only there because he made it. This is Isaiah’s way of saying, “You’re stuck with us LORD!”
c. Do not be furious, O LORD, nor remember iniquity forever: The praying one asks for mercy on account of “time served.” It is as if he prays, “LORD, You had a right to be furious with us for a time. You had a right to remember our iniquity for a while. But please, LORD, do not remember iniquity forever.”
d. Indeed, please look–we all are Your people: The praying one makes his final appeal for mercy on the simple grounds that “LORD, we all are Your people. We are sinners, and deserve Your judgment, but we are still Your people. In a sense, LORD, You are stuck with us.”
2. (10-11) Asking God to remember the condition of Zion.
Your holy cities are a wilderness,
Zion is a wilderness,
Jerusalem a desolation.
Our holy and beautiful temple,
Where our fathers praised You,
Is burned up with fire;
And all our pleasant things are laid waste.
a. Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation: In his appeal for mercy, the praying one asks God to look closely at the terrible condition of His holy cities. As he draws attention to our holy and beautiful temple, he notes that it is burned up with fire. It is an eloquent and powerful way of pleading with God to act.
3. (12) Asking God to act.
Will You restrain Yourself because of these things, O LORD?
Will You hold Your peace, and afflict us very severely?
a. Will You restrain Yourself because of these things, O LORD? The praying one concludes up the prayer with a great question. The these things he refers to are not the desperate condition of Jerusalem and the temple (Isaiah 64:10-11). They are the descriptions of our sinful condition (Isaiah 64:5b-7). The praying one asks, “LORD, You know very well our sinful condition. But will You restrain Yourself because of these things, O LORD?”
b. Will You hold Your peace, and afflict us very severely? The sense is, “LORD, please show mercy! Will you always give us what we deserve?”
i. In this prayer, the praying one deals with what seems to be an impossible problem. Because of our sin (Isaiah 64:5b-7), we are in a desperate state and need the LORD’s salvation. But the LORD only answers the prayers of a righteous man (Isaiah 64:4-5a) – and a righteous man wouldn’t be in the place we are! Ultimately, the answer is found in the New Covenant, where a righteous Man stands in our place and prays for us. This is why Jesus invited us to pray in His name (John 14:13-14). When we pray in Jesus’ name, He is the righteous Man who appeals to God for us.
(c) 2021 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – firstname.lastname@example.org
Isaiah 63 – Prayer from Captivity
A. The day of vengeance.
1. (1) A question and an answer: “Who is this?”
Who is this who comes from Edom,
With dyed garments from Bozrah,
This One who is glorious in His apparel,
Traveling in the greatness of His strength?—
“I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.”
a. Who is this who comes from Edom: This prophecy describes the day of the LORD’s vengeance. He has come from Edom in the sense that He has judged there first, and now comes to the land of Israel. As the LORD arrives, He is glorious in His apparel, traveling in the greatness of His strength.
i. With dyed garments from Bozrah is also significant. Bozrah was the capital city of ancient Edom, and “The important city of Bozrah is singled out because its name means ‘grape-gathering,’ and Isaiah developed a detailed comparison between treading grapes and pouring out blood.” (Wolf)
ii. “God’s act of judgment against Edom is clearly conceived to be a putting right of the wrongs done to Zion, especially since the Edomites took advantage of Judah’s weakness after the Fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians.” (Grogan)
b. I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save: This is the LORD’s reply to the question in the prophecy. He identifies Himself by what He says (I who speak in righteousness) and what He does (mighty to save). Even in the midst of judgment, in His glory and strength, He wants men to know He is mighty to save, not only mighty to judge.
2. (2-6) A question and an answer: “Why are Your clothes red?”
Why is Your apparel red,
And Your garments like one who treads in the winepress?
“I have trodden the winepress alone,
And from the peoples no one was with Me.
For I have trodden them in My anger,
And trampled them in My fury;
Their blood is sprinkled upon My garments,
And I have stained all My robes.
For the day of vengeance is in My heart,
And the year of My redeemed has come.
I looked, but there was no one to help,
And I wondered
That there was no one to uphold;
Therefore My own arm brought salvation for Me;
And My own fury, it sustained Me.
I have trodden down the peoples in My anger,
Made them drunk in My fury,
And brought down their strength to the earth.”
a. Why is Your apparel red: The prophet asks why the garment of the LORD is red, and the LORD answers, “I have trodden the winepress alone…. their blood is sprinkled upon My garments.” This promise is fulfilled when Jesus returns to the earth, and this passage is clearly behind passages like Revelation 19:13, 15: He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God…. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
b. I have trodden the winepress alone: This reminds us that this work of judgment belongs to Jesus Christ and He alone. Though we will be part of the heavenly armies that accompany Jesus (Revelation 19:14), the work of judgment belongs to Him alone. The point is even emphasized by Isaiah: From the peoples no one was with Me…. My own arm brought salvation for Me; and My own fury, it sustained Me.
i. In God’s great plan of the Ages, Jesus accomplishes two things alone. First, He atones for our sin alone. He alone hung on the cross, bearing the weight of all our guilt. Second, He judges the world alone. God does not need us to execute His ultimate judgment; we leave that to Him.
ii. “You will hear one say, that such-and-such a good man was punished for his transgressions; and I have known believers think that their afflictions were punishments sent from God on account of their sins. The thing is impossible; God has punished us, who are his people, once for all in Christ, and he never will punish us again. He cannot do it, seeing he is a just God. Afflictions are chastisements from a Father’s hand, but they are not judicial punishments. Jesus has trodden the wine-press, and he has trodden it alone: so we cannot tread it.” (Spurgeon)
c. The day of vengeance is in My heart: These words, prophetically spoken by Jesus, sound almost foreign to us. We rarely think of vengeance being in the heart of Jesus, but He said the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son (John 5:22).
d. And the year of My redeemed has come: In this, Isaiah prophetically explains why the Messiah can say, “vengeance is in My heart.” It isn’t because God loves punishing sinners, but He does love vindicating His redeemed.
i. Notice also the comparison: it is a mere day of vengeance, but an entire year of My redeemed. Each phrase is simply a poetic way of saying “time” but God fittingly uses the picture of a day in communicating His vengeance, and a year in expressing His grace.
B. The exile’s prayer.
1. (7-14) Remembering the mercy and the might of the LORD.
I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD
And the praises of the LORD,
According to all that the LORD has bestowed on us,
And the great goodness toward the house of Israel,
Which He has bestowed on them according to His mercies,
According to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses.
For He said, “Surely they are My people,
Children who will not lie.”
So He became their Savior.
In all their affliction He was afflicted,
And the Angel of His Presence saved them;
In His love and in His pity He redeemed them;
And He bore them and carried them
All the days of old.
But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit;
So He turned Himself against them as an enemy,
And He fought against them.
Then he remembered the days of old,
Moses and his people, saying:
“Where is He who brought them up out of the sea
With the shepherd of His flock?
Where is He who put His Holy Spirit within them,
Who led them by the right hand of Moses,
With His glorious arm,
Dividing the water before them
To make for Himself an everlasting name,
Who led them through the deep,
As a horse in the wilderness,
That they might not stumble?”
As a beast goes down into the valley,
And the Spirit of the LORD causes him to rest,
So You lead Your people,
To make Yourself a glorious name.
a. I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD…according to all that the LORD has bestowed on us: This prayer is prophetically placed in the mouth of one of Judah’s Babylonian exiles. Despite the agony expressed later in the prayer, the praying one first will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD. This is a glorious example of how, even in the lowest place, we can praise the LORD and remember His goodness.
i. Look at all that the troubled one has to thank God for: great goodness…mercies…. He became their Savior…. His love…His pity…He bore them and carried them. If this vocabulary of praise can come from an afflicted one, what excuse can we have for not praising God?
ii. Lovingkindnesses “is the Hebrew word hesed, the love that is faithful to the covenant.” (Grogan) It can also be translated “steadfast love.” It is one of the great words of the Old Testament, probably the closest Hebrew equivalent to the Greek word agape.
iii. Surely they are My people, children who will not lie: “The Hebrew word for lie contains even more than our word. It was applied to a fountain, pit or brook that contained no water any more and so disappointed the thirsty person, and to a fruit tree that no longer yielded any fruit (Habakkuk 3:17). With this one significant word, the Lord meant to say that His people will not deceive and disappoint Him.” (Butlema)
b. In all their affliction He was afflicted: Isaiah knows the nature of God; that in the afflictions of His people, He is afflicted also. God is not a dispassionate, unfeeling observer when His people suffer. He suffers with them when they are afflicted.
i. In all their affliction He was afflicted is another reason why anti-Semitism is so wicked. When the Jewish people are persecuted and afflicted, the LORD is afflicted also. How tragic that institutional Christianity, pretending to act in the name of Jesus, afflicted the LORD Himself by persecuting the Jewish people.
c. And the Angel of His Presence saved them: This refers to the presence and work of Jesus among ancient Israel, especially among those delivered from Egypt.
i. “The angel of His presence is the Messiah…. Calvin sees in this angel merely a serving angel. But of this Angel it is said that He by His love and pity saved Israel; this can hardly be said of a created angel. It is the Christ who is meant here.” (Bultema)
ii. “Angel of his presence: literally ‘of his face’. We recognize people by face; ‘face’ is the Lord’s very own presence (Psalm 139:7), among them in the person of his angel – that unique ‘Angel of the Lord’ (as in Genesis 16:7ff; 21:17; 22:11, 15; Exodus 3:2; 14:19; 23:20-23; Malachi 3:1) who speaks as the Lord and is yet distinct from him.” (Motyer)
d. But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit: Despite this outpouring of love and mercy from God, His people responded with cold, rebellious, unresponsive hearts. God had to deal with this in His people, so He fought against them.
i. In these few verses, we hear from God the Father (My people, children who will not lie), God the Son (the Angel of His Presence), and God the Holy Spirit (His Holy Spirit). Clearly, “There are Trinitarian overtones in the passage.” (Grogan)
e. Then he remembered the days of old: In the midst of the LORD’s discipline – in this case, prophetically speaking, the Babylonian exile – the praying one remembered the days of old. He remembered the mighty hand of God in days of old and knew that mighty hand could be raised again for His people.
i. Specifically, in this case, he remembered what the LORD did in the days of Moses and the Exodus. Since now they were in a place of exile (Babylon), the story of God’s deliverance from Egypt had special relevance. The praying one wasn’t there for the Exodus; he had to read about it in God’s word. But he saw how God’s great works in the past had meaning right now.
f. As a horse in the wilderness…as a beast goes down into the valley: Isaiah speaks of the ease of progress that Israel made during the Exodus, and how God will bless Israel again in their regathering and restoration. The result will be that the Spirit of the LORD causes him to rest.
i. As a horse in the wilderness should be understood in this sense: as a horse in open country. The idea is of unhindered, rapid progress.
ii. “In both these verses there is an allusion to the Israelites going through the Red Sea in the bottom of which they found no more inconvenience than a horse would in running in the desert.” (Clarke)
2. (15-19) A plea for restoration.
Look down from heaven,
And see from Your habitation, holy and glorious.
Where are Your zeal and Your strength,
The yearning of Your heart and Your mercies toward me?
Are they restrained?
Doubtless You are our Father,
Though Abraham was ignorant of us,
And Israel does not acknowledge us.
You, O LORD, are our Father;
Our Redeemer from Everlasting is Your name.
O LORD, why have You made us stray from Your ways,
And hardened our heart from Your fear?
Return for Your servants’ sake,
The tribes of Your inheritance.
Your holy people have possessed it but a little while;
Our adversaries have trodden down Your sanctuary.
We have become like those of old, over whom You never ruled,
Those who were never called by Your name.
a. Where are Your zeal and Your strength: The prophet speaks honest words from the mouth of the praying one. Sometimes it feels that the zeal and the strength of the LORD are far away, and when we feel like that, we should do just what the praying one did: cry out to God.
i. Return for Your servants’ sake: “The word ‘return’ may suggest the return of the shekinah glory to the temple as the symbol of God’s dwelling among his people (as in Ezekiel 43:6-12).” (Grogan)
b. We have become like those of old, over whom You never ruled: The praying one looks at the condition of God’s people and cries out in agony. Why has God allowed this? The praying one isn’t accurate in all his theology, but he is an expert in expressing the pain of the human heart.
(c) 2021 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – email@example.com
Isaiah 62 – A Glorious Future for Zion
A. Jerusalem is loved and protected.
1. (1-3) The coming righteousness and glory of Zion.
For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace,
And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,
Until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,
And her salvation as a lamp that burns.
The Gentiles shall see your righteousness,
And all kings your glory.
You shall be called by a new name,
Which the mouth of the LORD will name.
You shall also be a crown of glory
In the hand of the LORD,
And a royal diadem
In the hand of your God.
a. I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness: Isaiah prophesied in a time when Jerusalem was still a functioning city but was spiritually corrupt. Here, he looks forward to the time when Jerusalem is desolate because she has been conquered by the Babylonians, and prophetically speaks comfort and assurance to her discouraged and downcast citizens. The LORD assures them that He will not rest until Jerusalem is restored by a shining righteousness.
i. This prophecy is directed towards Zion and Jerusalem. Although God is concerned with that area as an actual material place, it also stands as a representation of Israel, and in an even more general sense, as a representation of all God’s people.
b. The Gentiles shall see your righteousness: When God lifts up Zion, then the nations see it and are brought to trust in the LORD themselves. The work God would do for Jerusalem was intended to have an effect on more than just Jerusalem but would extend to the Gentiles and to all kings.
c. You shall be called by a new name: Jerusalem will be so transformed that she will be called by a new name. Since the LORD is the author of the transformation, He is also the author of the new name (which the mouth of the LORD will name).
i. The thought is extended in Isaiah 62:4, where the LORD “exchanges” the old names of Jerusalem for her new names of glory and security.
ii. The idea of a new name also extends to Christians, in passages like Revelation 2:17 and 3:12. In heaven, when our transformation is complete, we will receive a new name that matches our completely transformed nature.
d. You shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD: Jerusalem will be so special to God that He will regard it as a crown of glory. We may be familiar with the idea that we will receive a crown; it is deeper and more wonderful to consider that we will be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD.
i. Paul uses a similar twist on a familiar idea in Ephesians 1:18, where he says that the believer should understand what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. The idea is not of our inheritance in the LORD, but of His inheritance in us. We often have only a superficial understanding of how precious we are to God.
2. (4-5) The LORD loves Zion as a bridegroom loves a bride.
You shall no longer be termed Forsaken,
Nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate;
But you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah;
For the LORD delights in you,
And your land shall be married.
For as a young man marries a virgin,
So shall your sons marry you;
And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
So shall your God rejoice over you.
a. You shall no longer be termed Forsaken: Jerusalem knew the experience of war and defeat and desolation. God’s people knew what it was like to feel Forsaken and Desolate, so it is as if they could take those names.
b. But you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah: The days of Forsaken and Desolate will one day pass. There will come a day when Zion and God’s people will know that God delights in them (Hephzibah means “My delight is in her”). There will come a day when Zion and God’s people will know the unbroken presence and love of God, as a wife should know the presence and love of her husband (Beulah means “Married”).
i. “With such economy of words and beauty of imagery Isaiah depicts the loving unanimity that characterise Zion and her intimate union with the Lord – which Revelation 19:7 foresees as the marriage of the Lamb.” (Motyer)
c. And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you: Zion and God’s people will know how much the LORD loves them. His feeling towards them is more than an obligation-type love; instead, He will rejoice over you.
i. The same idea is beautifully communicated in Zephaniah 3:17: The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. No wonder Paul made a special prayer that we could somehow begin to comprehend such love, that we may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height; to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge. (Ephesians 3:18-19)
3. (6-9) The LORD promises to protect Zion.
I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem;
They shall never hold their peace day or night.
You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent,
And give Him no rest till He establishes
And till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
The LORD has sworn by His right hand
And by the arm of His strength:
“Surely I will no longer give your grain
As food for your enemies;
And the sons of the foreigner shall not drink your new wine,
For which you have labored.
But those who have gathered it shall eat it,
And praise the LORD;
Those who have brought it together shall drink it in My holy courts.”
a. I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem: Because God loves and rejoices over Zion, He will protect them. Though they were conquered before by the Babylonians, the day will come when He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
b. Watchmen on your walls: The watchmen have a constant duty. They shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth. The watchmen are not critics; they are prayer warriors, who constantly pray, giving God “no rest” until God’s people and His city are restored.
i. Bultema on I have set watchmen…they shall never hold their peace day or night: “There is a threefold rich thought: (1) The Lord Himself does not rest with regard to Zion; (2) He does not want His petitioners to keep silence in their prayers for Israel; (3) and He does not want His people to leave Him alone concerning Israel’s deliverance.”
ii. “A restless Saviour calls upon his people to be restless, and to make the Lord himself restless – to give him no rest till his chosen city is in full splendour, his chosen church complete and glorious.” (Spurgeon)
iii. “‘Give him no rest’ is our Lord’s own command to us concerning the great God. I do not suppose any of you ever advised a beggar to be importunate with you. Did you ever say, ‘Whenever you see me go over this crossing ask me for a penny. If I do not give you one, run after me, or call after me all the way down the street. If that does not succeed, lay hold upon me, and do not let me go until I help you. Beg without ceasing.’ Did any one of you ever invite applicants to call often, and make large requests of you?…. He does in effect say, ‘Press me! Urge me! Lay hold on my strength. Wrestle with me, as when a man seeks to give another a fall that he may prevail with him.’ All this, and much more, is included in the expression, ‘Give him no rest.’” (Spurgeon)
c. The LORD has sworn by His right hand and by the arm of His strength: No more will Jerusalem be plundered by those who would steal her grain or new wine. Instead, those who have gathered it shall eat it, and praise the LORD.
B. The LORD will visit Jerusalem.
1. (10) A way prepared for the coming of the LORD.
Go through the gates!
Prepare the way for the people;
Build up the highway!
Take out the stones,
Lift up a banner for the peoples!
a. Prepare the way for the people: Isaiah prophetically looks forward to the time for the LORD to fulfill these promises. Since His salvation is coming, they must prepare the way for the people. They need to build up the highway, so a smooth road without obstacles is ready to usher people to the LORD’s salvation.
i. Previously through Isaiah great promises were made of a massive pilgrimage to Jerusalem, so roads must be built and the way must be prepared.
b. Lift up a banner for the peoples: Not only must the way be prepared, but it must also be marked by a banner for the peoples. Then not only will they be able to come, but they will also be attracted to come.
2. (11-12) The Messiah comes to Zion.
Indeed the LORD has proclaimed
To the end of the world:
“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Surely your salvation is coming;
Behold, His reward is with Him,
And His work before Him.’”
And they shall call them The Holy People,
The Redeemed of the LORD;
And you shall be called Sought Out,
A City Not Forsaken.
a. Say to the daughter of Zion, “Surely your salvation is coming”: The way has been prepared and marked; now is the time for the LORD’s salvation and Savior to emerge, and to come to Zion.
i. The Savior came to Zion, but not only to Zion. Isaiah makes it clear: Indeed the LORD has proclaimed to the end of the world this great news of the coming Savior.
b. Behold, His reward is with Him: When the Messiah comes to Zion, His reward is with Him. Revelation 22:12 is a quotation from this verse: And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.
i. Paul continues this idea in 1 Corinthians 3:8-14, saying how when we appear before the Lord, we will be judged according to our work for and with Him. On that day, each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. (1 Corinthians 3:8)
c. And you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken: Through her history, Jerusalem knew what it was like to be Forsaken. But in that day, she will be called Sought Out; everyone will know she was valued and chosen by God.
(c) 2021 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – firstname.lastname@example.org
Isaiah 61 – Out of the Mouth of the Messiah
A. What the Messiah will do.
1. (1a) The empowerment of the Messiah’s ministry.
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me,
Because the LORD has anointed Me.
a. The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me: Here, Isaiah prophetically speaks for the Messiah, and the Messiah announces that He is blessed and empowered by the Spirit of the Lord GOD.
b. The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me: In Luke 4:16-22, Jesus spoke in the synagogue of Nazareth, His hometown. He opened up the scroll to Isaiah 61 – perhaps an assigned reading, perhaps chosen by Him – and read from the beginning of the chapter through the first line of verse 2. When He sat down, He simply said today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing. Jesus is the person described in Isaiah 61:1-3 and He is the one the Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon.
i. If Jesus, the Son of God and God the Son, perfect in both His deity and humanity, needed the Spirit of the Lord GOD, how much more do we.
c. Because the LORD has anointed Me: This identifies the speaker as the Messiah because Messiah means “Anointed One.” Passages such as 1 Samuel 2:10 refer to the Messiah as His anointed.
i. The word “anoint” means to rub or sprinkle on; apply an unguent, ointment, or oily liquid to. Persons in the Old Testament were often literally anointed with oil. For example, priests were anointed for their special service to the LORD (Exodus 28:41). Literal oil would be applied, but as a sign of the Holy Spirit upon their lives and service. The oil on the head was only the outward representation of the real, spiritual work going on inside them.
ii. As Christians under the New Covenant, we also have an anointing: But you have an anointing from the Holy One (1 John 2:20). In the New Testament sense, anointing has the idea of being filled with, and blessed by, the Holy Spirit. This is something that is the common property of all Christians, but something we can and should become more submitted and responsive to.
2. (1b-3) The ministry of the Messiah.
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”
a. To preach good tidings to the poor: The Messiah announces that He is here to heal the damage that sin brings. Sin has done great damage, so there needs to be a great work of redemption.
b. He has sent Me: Because sin impoverishes, He will preach good tidings to the poor. Because sin breaks hearts, He will heal the brokenhearted. Because sin makes captives, He will proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound. Because sin oppresses, He will proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.
c. He has sent Me: Because sin is a crime that must be avenged, He will proclaim…the day of vengeance of our God.
i. Significantly, Jesus stopped reading before this sentence. He stopped in the middle of the prophecy, because to proclaim…the day of vengeance of our God is relevant to His Second Coming, not to His first coming. The comma in year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance has stood for almost 2,000 years. This shows us something of the nature of Biblical prophecy: it may “shift gears” and time frames quickly and without warning.
ii. We can compare a whole year of grace to a single day of vengeance.
d. He has sent Me: Because sin brings grief, He will comfort all who mourn.
i. The extent of the comfort and restoration is beautifully described. Instead of the ashes of mourning, He gives His people beauty. Instead of the mourning itself, He gives His people the oil of joy. Instead of the spirit of heaviness, He gives His people the garment of praise. Why do we sit in the ashes, why do we mourn, why do we indulge the spirit of heaviness when Jesus gave us something so much better?
ii. The word beauty has in mind a beautiful crown or head ornament. It is translated exquisite hats in Exodus 39:28 and headdresses in Isaiah 3:20. In mourning, ashes would be cast upon the head (2 Samuel 13:19). Here, the ashes are replaced with a beautiful crown.
e. That they may be called trees of righteousness: The restored place of God’s people is glorious. They are as strong, beautiful, and useful as trees – and trees of righteousness at that. Most wonderfully, when people look at the trees, they see they are the planting of the LORD.
B. What God’s people will do.
1. (4) God’s people will rebuild what is ruined.
And they shall rebuild the old ruins,
They shall raise up the former desolations,
And they shall repair the ruined cities,
The desolations of many generations.
a. They shall rebuild the old ruins: God loves to restore ruins. He wants to use His people to restore and rebuild things that are broken down and ruined. Under the empowerment of the Spirit, and the ministry of the Messiah, God’s people will be rebuilders.
b. The desolations of many generations: Even if the rubble has stood for many generations, God can still use His people to rebuild. A beautiful example – and partial fulfillment – of this is Nehemiah, who took the decades-old rubble of Jerusalem’s walls and rebuilt the walls.
2. (5-6) God’s people will be set apart to serve the LORD.
Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks,
And the sons of the foreigner
Shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.
But you shall be named the priests of the LORD,
They shall call you the servants of our God.
You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles,
And in their glory you shall boast.
a. You shall be named the priests of the LORD, men shall call you the servants of our God: God’s people, under the anointing of the Spirit and the ministry of the Messiah, have a holy occupation. They are priests of the LORD and servants of our God. God provides others to take care of the flocks and to be your plowmen and your vinedressers.
3. (7) God’s people will rejoice at God’s great blessings.
Instead of your shame you shall have double honor,
And instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion.
Therefore in their land they shall possess double;
Everlasting joy shall be theirs.
a. Instead of your shame: What a change under the anointing of the Spirit and the ministry of the Messiah! No more shame. Now, you shall have double honor. No more confusion. Now, they shall rejoice in their portion. Indeed, everlasting joy shall be theirs, a joy that can never be taken away.
C. The everlasting covenant.
1. (8) The heart behind the covenant.
“For I, the LORD, love justice;
I hate robbery for burnt offering;
I will direct their work in truth,
And will make with them an everlasting covenant.
a. For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery for burnt offering: The LORD explains how sacrifices such as a burnt offering can really just amount to robbery if the heart isn’t right. Instead, the LORD loves justice. Sacrifices alone, and the sacrificial system in itself, are not enough.
b. I will direct their work in truth, and will make with them an everlasting covenant: God has an alternative to the sacrificial system. As God directs the work, and as He makes an everlasting covenant, then His heart will be fulfilled among the people.
2. (9) The covenant brings prominent blessings.
Their descendants shall be known among the Gentiles,
And their offspring among the people.
All who see them shall acknowledge them,
That they are the posterity whom the LORD has blessed.”
a. They are posterity whom the LORD has blessed: This everlasting covenant brings blessing, and blessings so prominent that the blessed shall be known among the Gentiles. In fact, all who see them shall acknowledge them.
b. Whom the LORD has blessed: The writer to the Hebrews pronounces a blessing regarding this everlasting covenant: Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21)
3. (10-11) The covenant brings salvation and righteousness.
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its bud,
As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth,
So the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.
a. I will greatly rejoice in the LORD: The blessed one’s joy isn’t in the blessing itself but in the LORD. This is the same thought later expressed in Philippians 4:4, where the Apostle Paul wrote, Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
b. For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness: The granting of salvation and righteousness to God’s people is represented by the picture of clothing them.
i. These are glorious garments: As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
ii. These are given garments: For He has clothed me…He has covered me.
c. As the earth brings forth its bud: The blessing of God grows. It isn’t manufactured, but it grows. Even so, the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.
i. There is a sense in which we can never make something grow. No one can get inside of a seed and “turn on” the genetic component that makes the seed spring forth, and bud. The blessing of life and growth is miraculously within the seed. But we can provide the right environment for the seed to bud, grow, and be fruitful. That’s also how we receive and flourish in God’s blessings. We can’t “make” or “manufacture” them. But we can put our hearts and minds in the right environments of faith, fellowship, and obedience, to see blessing grow and flourish.
(c) 2021 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – email@example.com
Isaiah 60 – The Glorious Light of God’s Kingdom
A. The glory of Israel in the Kingdom of God.
1. (1-3) The glorious light of God’s Kingdom.
For your light has come!
And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.
For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
And deep darkness the people;
But the Lord will arise over you,
And His glory will be seen upon you.
The Gentiles shall come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising.
a. Arise, shine; for your light has come: After the thick and desperate darkness described in Isaiah 59:9-10, this is the glorious rescue from the Redeemer. Light has come – so God tells His people to respond to it, and to arise and shine.
i. Darkness is for lying down; light is for rising up. Darkness is for gloom and sleep; light is for shining. When the light has come, we must respond, and arise, shine.
ii. First we receive God’s light (your light has come), and then we have a service to perform (arise, shine). You can’t shine until your light has come, but once it has come, there is something wrong if you don’t arise and shine.
b. And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you: This is no earthly light; this is light that emanates from the glory of the Lord. This is like the light of Jesus in the Transfiguration, when His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light (Matthew 17:2). Sometimes harsh, bright light can be disturbing or uncomfortable – but not this warm, wonderful light that pulsates from the glory of the Lord.
c. Gentiles shall come to your light: When the Lord lifts up His glorious light over Israel, the Gentile nations shall see it and be attracted to the light. Even kings will be attracted to the brightness of Israel’s rising. This will be ultimately fulfilled in the Millennial Kingdom of Jesus when Israel is lifted up among all nations.
i. While in principle this chapter has application to all God’s people, it is specifically directed to Israel, and will be fulfilled in the Millennial Kingdom. Not all have seen this. Adam Clarke writes, “The subject of this chapter is the great increase and flourishing state of the Church of God by the conversion and accession of the heathen nations to it.” But the fact that the Lord speaks of the Gentiles here in opposition to the subjects of the prophecy shows He speaks to Israel as Israel. Replacement theology just doesn’t work here, or anywhere.
2. (4-13) Great treasures come to Israel in the Kingdom.
“Lift up your eyes all around, and see:
They all gather together, they come to you;
Your sons shall come from afar,
And your daughters shall be nursed at your side.
Then you shall see and become radiant,
And your heart shall swell with joy;
Because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,
The wealth of the Gentiles shall come to you.
The multitude of camels shall cover your land,
The dromedaries of Midian and Ephah;
All those from Sheba shall come;
They shall bring gold and incense,
And they shall proclaim the praises of the Lord.
All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together to you,
The rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you;
They shall ascend with acceptance on My altar,
And I will glorify the house of My glory.
“Who are these who fly like a cloud,
And like doves to their roosts?
Surely the coastlands shall wait for Me;
And the ships of Tarshish will come first,
To bring your sons from afar,
Their silver and their gold with them,
To the name of the Lord your God,
And to the Holy One of Israel,
Because He has glorified you.
“The sons of foreigners shall build up your walls,
And their kings shall minister to you;
For in My wrath I struck you,
But in My favor I have had mercy on you.
Therefore your gates shall be open continually;
They shall not be shut day or night,
That men may bring to you the wealth of the Gentiles,
And their kings in procession.
For the nation and kingdom which will not serve you shall perish,
And those nations shall be utterly ruined.
“The glory of Lebanon shall come to you,
The cypress, the pine, and the box tree together,
To beautify the place of My sanctuary;
And I will make the place of My feet glorious.
a. Your sons shall come from afar: Through this passage, one of the great themes is regathering. We may suppose that in the Millennial Kingdom of Jesus, every Jewish person remaining on the earth will be gathered into the land of Israel from every nation on earth. The present-day regathering of Israel is a precious preview of this ultimate and complete regathering.
b. The wealth of the Gentiles shall come to you: Not only will they receive the treasure of their people, but also the literal treasure of the Gentiles shall come to Israel in the Millennial Kingdom. The nations will willingly give them their wealth, much as the Egyptians willingly gave the Israelites riches when they left Egypt (Exodus 12:35-36). So much will be given that they will need to keep the gates of the city open continually.
c. They shall bring gold…. their silver and their gold with them: Why do the nations bestow such riches on little Israel? First, they recognize that they thereby give it to God. They bring their silver and their gold with them, to the name of the Lord your God, and to the Holy One of Israel. Second, they do it because they see the work of God in Israel: because He has glorified you. So they willingly give to and serve Israel (The sons of foreigners shall build up your walls, and their kings shall minister to you).
d. To beautify the place of My sanctuary; and I will make the place of My feet glorious: Another reason the riches of the nations pour into Jerusalem in the Millennial Kingdom of Jesus will be to build and support the Millennial Temple. The Millennial Temple – described in great depth in Ezekiel 40-47 – stands as a place memorializing God’s presence and work in history. There will apparently also be priests and sacrifices at the temple, but not for atonement – because atonement was finished at the cross. The sacrifices are for worship, consecration, and perhaps historical reenactment.
B. The glory of Israel in the Kingdom contrasted with their previous state.
1. (14-18) How the nations treated Israel, and how they will treat them in the Kingdom.
Also the sons of those who afflicted you
Shall come bowing to you,
And all those who despised you shall fall prostrate at the soles of your feet;
And they shall call you The City of the Lord,
Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
“Whereas you have been forsaken and hated,
So that no one went through you,
I will make you an eternal excellence,
A joy of many generations.
You shall drink the milk of the Gentiles,
And milk the breast of kings;
You shall know that I, the Lord, am your Savior
And your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
“Instead of bronze I will bring gold,
Instead of iron I will bring silver,
Instead of wood, bronze,
And instead of stones, iron.
I will also make your officers peace,
And your magistrates righteousness.
Violence shall no longer be heard in your land,
Neither wasting nor destruction within your borders;
But you shall call your walls Salvation,
And your gates Praise.
a. The sons of those who afflicted you shall come bowing to you: Those who previously persecuted Israel, and specifically Jerusalem, will have a different heart and mind in the Millennial Kingdom. Then they will come bowing to Jerusalem; they will recognize it as The City of the Lord.
b. Instead of bronze I will bring gold: God will take what was old – and perhaps functional, but not full of glory – and replace it with far better things. More of a miracle than turning bronze to gold is turning magistrates to righteousness.
c. Violence shall no longer be heard in your land, neither wasting nor destruction within your borders; but you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise: What a glorious transformation! From the violence and unrestrained bloodshed of Isaiah 59:6-8, to walls called Salvation and gates called Praise.
i. The ultimate fulfillment of these things waits because the Millennial Kingdom is not yet here. But the King of that Kingdom is here and wants to do some of that work on a different level. For example, a home can see a beautiful transformation right now. It can be said of a Christian home, violence shall no longer be heard in your home, neither wasting nor destruction within your walls; but you shall call your walls Salvation and your doors Praise.
d. You shall know: This explains why God does this. It is not because Israel is so great and has earned this as an achievement through hard work. He does it that You shall know that I, the Lord, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob. He does a work so great that all know it is His doing.
2. (19-22) How the Lord will treat Israel in the Kingdom.
“The sun shall no longer be your light by day,
Nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you;
But the Lord will be to you an everlasting light,
And your God your glory.
Your sun shall no longer go down,
Nor shall your moon withdraw itself;
For the Lord will be your everlasting light,
And the days of your mourning shall be ended.
Also your people shall all be righteous;
They shall inherit the land forever,
The branch of My planting,
The work of My hands,
That I may be glorified.
A little one shall become a thousand,
And a small one a strong nation.
I, the Lord, will hasten it in its time.”
a. The sun shall no longer be your light by day…but the Lord will be to you an everlasting light: This is like the light of the New Jerusalem described in Revelation 21:23, where the Lord Himself is the light. But just as important as having the Lord as your everlasting light is having your God your glory, and to glory in no one or nothing else.
i. “In the old order of creation, life was governed rigidly by night and day and unpredictably by the fitfulness of sun and moon. But in the new order of salvation, the ruling principle is the changeless presence of the Lord.” (Motyer)
b. They shall inherit the land forever: When we remember the context of Isaiah’s prophecy, it makes it even more precious. Isaiah was mostly written under the shadow of coming defeat and exile. To those dispossessed people of God, Isaiah pointed them to a day when they shall inherit the land forever.
i. This promise would not be fulfilled because the people of God were so good. Rather, the Lord said that it would be seen as the work of My hands, that I may be glorified.
c. I, the Lord, will hasten it in its time: God didn’t say it would happen soon, though in an eternal scale we might consider it soon. But God would hasten it – hurry it along, expedite it – in its time. When its time has come, the Lord will hasten it, but not before its time.
i. The promise seems too good to be true, and we are conditioned to think that if it seems too good to be true, it is. But God is too good not to be true.
(c) 2021 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – firstname.lastname@example.org
Isaiah 59 – The Reality Check
A. The sin God sees.
1. (1) The problem of God’s people: what the cause is not.
Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened,
That it cannot save;
Nor His ear heavy,
That it cannot hear.
a. Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save: God’s people wondered why God did not seem to rescue them from their trials. They wondered if perhaps God had diminished in strength – if His hand had become shortened. Isaiah the prophet assures them that this is not the case.
i. This touches on one of the greatest problems in practical theology: how can there be a God of love and all power when there is human suffering? If we loved someone and had the power to end their suffering, wouldn’t we do it? Isaiah addresses those who wondered if God wasn’t all-powerful, and that is why their suffering continues.
ii. Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote a remarkably wide-selling book titled When Bad Things Happen to Good People (1981). It sold more than four million copies and was on the New York Times best-seller list for a whole year. The whole point of his book is to say God is all-loving but not all-powerful, that God is good, but not sovereign. So, when bad things happen to good people, it is because events are out of God’s control. Kushner advises his readers to “learn to love [God] and forgive him despite his limitations.” This certainly is not the God of the Bible, because the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save. Isaiah simply says, “Behold this. See this.”
b. Nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear: Perhaps the problem isn’t that God lacks power. Perhaps He lacks knowledge of our problem or interest in our problem. But this isn’t the situation at all, as Isaiah reminds us. God’s ear is not heavy. He can hear us just fine.
2. (2) The problem of God’s people: what the cause is.
But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
And your sins have hidden His face from you,
So that He will not hear.
a. But your iniquities have separated you from your God: The problem isn’t with God’s power, His knowledge, or His interest. The problem is with our iniquities. Sin has separated you from your God.
i. In what way does sin separate us from God? Sin does not necessarily separate us from the presence of God, because God is present everywhere (Psalm 139:7) and even Satan can have an audience with God (Job 1:6). Sin does not separate us from the love of God, because God loves sinners (Romans 5:8). But sin still does separate.
·Sin separates us from fellowship with God, because at least at the point of our sin, we no longer think alike with God.
·Sin separates us from the blessing of God, because at least at the point of our sin, we are not trusting God and relying on Him.
·Sin separates us from some of the benefits of God’s love, even as the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) was still loved by the father but didn’t enjoy the benefits of his love when he was in sin.
·Sin separates us, in some way, from the protection of God, because He will allow trials to come our way to correct us.
ii. How easy it is for us to blame our problems on everything except our iniquities! We will even blame God before seeing that the problem is with us! We will deny who God is before seeing that the problem is with us.
b. And your sins have hidden His face from you: This explains why God’s people no longer felt the face of the LORD shining on them (Numbers 6:25). It was their sins, not the inability of God to hear, or His lack of interest in hearing.
i. This helps us understand – at least in a small way – the cry of Jesus from the cross, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? (Matthew 27:46). As Jesus stood in the place of guilty sinners, there was some way in which the face of God the Father was hidden from Him. Not in an ultimate, absolute sense; but in some way. But that was for our sins, not His own.
3. (3-8) A detailed description of the sins of God’s people.
For your hands are defiled with blood,
And your fingers with iniquity;
Your lips have spoken lies,
Your tongue has muttered perversity.
No one calls for justice,
Nor does any plead for truth.
They trust in empty words and speak lies;
They conceive evil and bring forth iniquity.
They hatch vipers’ eggs and weave the spider’s web;
He who eats of their eggs dies,
And from that which is crushed a viper breaks out.
Their webs will not become garments,
Nor will they cover themselves with their works;
Their works are works of iniquity,
And the act of violence is in their hands.
Their feet run to evil,
And they make haste to shed innocent blood;
Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity;
Wasting and destruction are in their paths.
The way of peace they have not known,
And there is no justice in their ways;
They have made themselves crooked paths;
Whoever takes that way shall not know peace.
a. Your hands are defiled with blood: They practiced and approved of violence and murder.
b. Your lips have spoken lies: They lied with ease and regularity.
c. No one calls for justice: They did not share God’s heart for what was fair and good; everyone simply thought in terms of their own good. Both justice and truth were distant concepts, and instead of justice there were empty words, instead of truth there were lies.
i. Motyer on empty words: “Isaiah is not describing but diagnosing. They may think they are acting sensibly but actually it is all nonsense.”
d. They conceive evil and bring forth iniquity, as if they were snakes giving birth to more evil serpents, bringing nothing but death (he who eats of their eggs dies) and more evil (from that which is crushed a viper breaks out).
i. Clarke on weave the spider’s web: “By their plots they weave nets, lay snares industriously, with great pains and artifice, whereby they may entangle and involve their poor neighbours in intricacies and perplexities, and so devour them, as the spider weaves her web to catch flies, and then to feed on them.” But their webs will never cover them before God; Their webs will not become garments, nor will they cover themselves with their works.
e. The act of violence is in their hands. Their feet run to evil: Both hands and feet are given to sin. But it doesn’t end there; even their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity.
f. They have made themselves crooked paths; whoever takes that way shall not know peace: Their choice and the consequences are plain. Their crooked paths will never lead them into the way of peace, meaning peace in the full sense of shalom.
i. Paul quoted Isaiah 59:7-8 in Romans 3:15-17. He used this passage, connected with other Old Testament passages, to demonstrate that man is a sinner from “head to toe.”
ii. In light of all this sin, it is amazing – absolutely amazing – that God’s people could still believe (as they did in Isaiah 59:1) that the problem was with God, and not them.
B. The effects of sin the people see.
1. (9-11) Because of their sin, darkness comes.
Therefore justice is far from us,
Nor does righteousness overtake us;
We look for light, but there is darkness!
For brightness, but we walk in blackness!
We grope for the wall like the blind,
And we grope as if we had no eyes;
We stumble at noonday as at twilight;
We are as dead men in desolate places.
We all growl like bears,
And moan sadly like doves;
We look for justice, but there is none;
For salvation, but it is far from us.
a. Therefore justice is far from us, nor does righteousness overtake us: Because God’s people had no interest in justice, God did not bless them with it. Because God’s people did not care about righteousness, God did not bless them with it. This is the principle of Jesus stated in Matthew 13:12: For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.
b. We look for light, but there is darkness: Now, having given themselves over to darkness, when they wanted the light, it wasn’t there. When you always have the light to go to, the darkness feels “fun.” It seems mysterious and adventurous. But when the light is taken away, we despair in the darkness.
2. (12-15a) Confessing their sin and admitting their guilt.
For our transgressions are multiplied before You,
And our sins testify against us;
For our transgressions are with us,
And as for our iniquities, we know them:
In transgressing and lying against the LORD,
And departing from our God,
Speaking oppression and revolt,
Conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood.
Justice is turned back,
And righteousness stands afar off;
For truth is fallen in the street,
And equity cannot enter.
So truth fails,
And he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.
a. Our sins testify against us…. righteousness stands afar off: Now God’s people are in a better place. They have had their reality check and see things as they are. No longer do they blame the “shortened hand” of God, or His “heavy ear.” They know it is because of their own sins that righteousness stands afar off.
C. The salvation and redemption the LORD sees.
1. (15b-16a) What the LORD saw.
Then the LORD saw it, and it displeased Him
That there was no justice.
He saw that there was no man,
And wondered that there was no intercessor.
a. The LORD saw it, and it displeased Him, that there was no justice: The state of God’s people was no mystery to the LORD. They cried out in Isaiah 59:12-15a, stating how desperate their condition was – and the LORD knew it all along.
b. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: Not only was the state of God’s people bad, but no one among them took the lead in getting it right. Where was the man who would lead the people in righteousness? He could not be found. Where was the intercessor who would plead God’s case to the people, and the people’s repentance to their God? No intercessor could be found.
2. (16b-19) What the LORD did.
Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him;
And His own righteousness, it sustained Him.
For He put on righteousness as a breastplate,
And a helmet of salvation on His head;
He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing,
And was clad with zeal as a cloak.
According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay,
Fury to His adversaries,
Recompense to His enemies;
The coastlands He will fully repay.
So shall they fear
The name of the LORD from the west,
And His glory from the rising of the sun;
When the enemy comes in like a flood,
The Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him.
a. Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him: God waited and waited for a disobedient Israel to turn to Him. He waited and waited for a man to lead them back to Him, or an intercessor to plead before Him. None arose; so the LORD did it Himself. If a man or an intercessor would have stepped out, it would have saved Israel a lot of calamity. But the fact that no man or no intercessor stepped forward didn’t ruin God’s plan. He waited to work in partnership through a man. He waited to work through an intercessor. But God’s work would still be accomplished if none arose.
b. He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head: No man stepped forward to work with the LORD, so the LORD put on his armor and went to destroy His enemies, protect His people, and glorify His name.
i. Most people don’t pick up the connection between Isaiah 59:17-18 and Paul’s comments on our spiritual armor in Ephesians 6:10-17. In that passage, Paul calls that armor the whole armor of God, and it is God’s armor in the sense that it belongs to Him – after all, He uses it here in Isaiah 59:17-18 – and He allows us to use it to fight for Him.
ii. We may see a connection. If we don’t put on the armor of God and fight for Him, then eventually God will put it on Himself and fight for His glory. But God’s preference is to work in and through us, with us using His armor.
c. So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun: This shows that the end result will be wonderful. In His ultimate victory – which He wants us to share in but will accomplish with or without us – the glory of the LORD will be known and respected from east to west.
d. When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him. The enemies of the LORD will never triumph over Him. Even if they come in like a flood, and seem unstoppable, the LORD will lift up a battle-standard against him, and he will be stopped. God gives His people the glorious privilege of being more than conquerors (Romans 8:37) but will win the battle with or without us.
3. (20-21) What the LORD said.
“The Redeemer will come to Zion,
And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,”
Says the LORD.
“As for Me,” says the LORD, “this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants,” says the LORD, “from this time and forevermore.”
a. The Redeemer will come to Zion: After speaking in the third person through the prophet, now the LORD speaks in the first-person through the prophet. When He speaks, He declares: The Redeemer – the goel – will come to Zion.
i. The goel – sometimes translated kinsman-redeemer, here simply as Redeemer – had a specifically defined role in Israel’s family life. The kinsman-redeemer was responsible to buy a fellow Israelite out of slavery (Leviticus 25:48). He was responsible to be the “avenger of blood” to make sure the murderer of a family member answered to the crime (Numbers 35:19). He was responsible to buy back family land that had been forfeited (Leviticus 25:25). And he was responsible to carry on the family name by marrying a childless widow (Deuteronomy 25:5-10). In these, we see that the goel, the kinsman-redeemer, was responsible to safeguard the persons, the property, and the posterity of the family.
ii. When the New King James Version capitalizes Redeemer, it does so rightly – because our goel is Jesus Christ. He is our near kinsman because He has added perfect humanity to His deity. He is the one who buys us out of slavery. He is the one who avenges wrongs done to us. He protects our inheritance and blesses and guards our posterity. This promise of the LORD in Isaiah 59:20 could be reworded, “I will send My Messiah, the Redeemer for all humanity, Jesus of Nazareth!”
b. To those who turn from transgression: Who does the Redeemer come to? To those who turn from transgression. The goel only worked for those who asked for His services and knew they needed Him.
c. My Spirit who is upon you, and My words…shall not depart from your mouth…from this time and forevermore: The covenant God makes with His people promises an abiding Spirit and an enduring word. God accomplishes His purpose in people and through all creation through both the Spirit and the word.
(c) 2021 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – email@example.com
Isaiah 58 – The Blessing of True Worship
A. The LORD exposes the shallow worship of His people.
1. (1-3a) God’s people ask: “Why do our prayers go unanswered?”
“Cry aloud, spare not;
Lift up your voice like a trumpet;
Tell My people their transgression,
And the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet they seek Me daily,
And delight to know My ways,
As a nation that did righteousness,
And did not forsake the ordinance of their God.
They ask of Me the ordinances of justice;
They take delight in approaching God.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen?
Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’
a. Cry aloud, spare not…tell My people their transgression: God spoke loudly and directly. His people need to hear their transgression – but would they hear?
b. They seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways: God first described the appearance of their spiritual life. On the surface, it seemed that God’s people loved Him and were devoted to Him. They had the reputation of a nation that did righteousness, and they looked like people who would take delight in approaching God.
c. Why have we fasted…and You have not seen? With this spiritual veneer, they felt God was unfair to them. It was as if they said, “LORD, we have fasted, but You still don’t answer our prayer. Don’t you know that we seek you daily, delight to know Your ways, do righteousness, and take delight in approaching You? Yet You do not answer our prayers!”
2. (3b-5) God exposes the shallow worship of His people.
“In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure,
And exploit all your laborers.
Indeed you fast for strife and debate,
And to strike with the fist of wickedness.
You will not fast as you do this day,
To make your voice heard on high.
Is it a fast that I have chosen,
A day for a man to afflict his soul?
Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush,
And to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Would you call this a fast,
And an acceptable day to the LORD?
a. In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, and exploit all your laborers: Enough with the image; now God exposes the reality. The reality was that His people didn’t fast with the right heart and did it only as an empty ritual. The reality was that even on a day when they fasted, they still exploited their employees. God didn’t accept their fasting when it wasn’t connected with a sincere heart of obedience.
i. “How can any nation pretend to fast or worship God at all, or dare to profess that they believe in the existence of such a Being, while they carry on the slave trade, and traffic in the souls, blood, and bodies of men! O ye most [criminal] of knaves, and worst of hypocrites, cast off at once the mask of your religion; and deepen not your endless perdition by professing the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, while ye continue in this traffic!” (Adam Clarke, writing in 1823)
b. Indeed you fast for strife and debate, and to strike with the fist of wickedness: They fasted for needs, certainly; but selfish needs like “LORD, help me win this argument.” “LORD, help me defeat this person.” Though their prayer was accompanied with fasting, it was still a selfish, even wicked prayer – so God did not answer.
c. You will not fast as you do this day, to make your voice heard on high: The purpose of their fasting was to glorify themselves, to make their voice heard on high. God says, “No more. You will not fast as you do this day.”
d. Is it a fast that I have chosen: The kind of fasting God rebukes here is a hollow, empty, show, without the spiritual substance behind it. This isn’t the kind of fast God has chosen. Even though they do all the right things in fasting (bow down his head like a bulrush…spread out sackcloth and ashes), God does not even call this a fast.
i. The people of Isaiah’s day had the same problem as the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. They trusted in empty ritual, apart from the spiritual reality. Real fasting – fasting that is partnered with real repentance, and isn’t only about image – has great power before God (Matthew 17:21). But God sees through the hypocrisy of empty religious ritual, including fasting. In Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, He told how the self-righteous Pharisee made a special point to say, “I fast twice a week” (Luke 18:9-14).
ii. It isn’t that Isaiah or the LORD are down on fasting. They are down on any empty religious ritual. The answer isn’t to stop fasting, but to get right with God and make your fasting more than superficial. As Jesus said to His people about the empty religious rituals of the Pharisees, These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone (Matthew 23:23).
B. The character and blessings of true worship.
1. (6-7) The kind of worship and fasting most acceptable to God.
“Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
to let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
a. Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness: God tells His people, “If you want to fast the way that pleases Me, begin with getting right with your brothers and sisters. Stop oppressing others and reach out to help others.”
b. Loose the bonds of wickedness…undo the heavy burdens…let the oppressed go free…break every yoke: First, they had to stop acting wickedly towards others. This means that getting right with God begins by stopping the evil we do towards others.
c. Share your bread with the hungry…cover…not hide yourself from your own flesh: Then, they had to start acting lovingly towards others. This means that getting right with God continues by doing loving things for other people.
2. (8-12) The blessings God promises for the true worshipper.
Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
“If you take away the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
If you extend your soul to the hungry
And satisfy the afflicted soul,
Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
And your darkness shall be as the noonday.
The LORD will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
Those from among you
Shall build the old waste places;
You shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach,
The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.
a. Then your light shall break forth like the morning: If God’s people would couple their fasting with lives of righteousness and love, then they would see their prayers answered. They would have lives full of light, full of healing, full of righteousness, full of the glory of the LORD. When they call out to God, then the LORD will answer.
b. If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness: Again, the LORD gives them three things to stop doing.
·They must stop oppressing others, treating them as animals bound with a yoke.
·They must stop pointing…the finger at others and see where they are to blame.
·They must stop speaking wickedness.
i. These are sins of commission. They are sins that we go out and do against the LORD and against others. If we will walk right with God, we must stop and guard against sins of commission.
c. If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul: Again, the LORD gives them two things to start doing. They needed to minister to the hungry with more than food; they had to extend their soul to the hungry. They had to look for the afflicted soul and seek to satisfy it.
i. Failing to do these are sins of omission. They are things that we should have done, yet we have not. If we will walk right with God, we must open our eyes and do what is our loving duty before Him.
ii. This prayer, “A General Confession of Sin,” from the Book of Common Prayer (1559 edition), expresses repentance for both sins of commission and omission:
Almighty and most merciful Father, we have erred and strayed from thy ways, like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done, and there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us miserable offenders. Spare thou them, O God, which confess their faults. Restore thou them that be penitent, according to thy promises declared unto mankind, in Christ Jesu our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake, that we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, to the glory of thy holy name.
d. Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday: To the repentant, God promises blessing. Not only will they have light, but even their darkness shall be as the noonday!
e. The LORD will guide you continually: This is a promise for those who do more than just empty religious rituals. To have the guidance of the LORD, empty religious ritual isn’t enough. We need to seek God with both sincere hearts and sincere actions.
f. And satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones: Those who serve God with sincere hearts and actions enjoy a health and life of the soul that is impossible for the superficial follower of God to know.
g. Those from among you shall build the old waste places: Those who serve God with sincere hearts and actions also accomplish things for God’s kingdom. They build and are called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell in. You can’t build anything for God’s kingdom on the foundation of a superficial walk with God.
i. How there needs to be a rebuilding work today! “We live in a broken world. In every direction there are breaches which are wide and deep. There are broken hearts and broken homes, and that which once was sacred is but a waste place. Whereas once there was a carefully guarded fence around the sanctity of family life, sex life, and the right to personal privacy, now there is just a waste place. The wall of protection is in ruins, and life has lost all its meaning.” (Redpath)
ii. All in all, this passage shows several characteristics of a life right with God.
·It is an enlightened life: Your light shall dawn in the darkness.
·It is a guided life: The LORD will guide you continually.
·It is a satisfied life: And satisfy your soul in drought.
·It is a fragrant life: Like a watered garden.
·It is a freshly sustained life: Like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
·It is a productive, healing life: You shall build the old waste places.
3. (13-14) True Sabbath keeping and the blessings of it.
“If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath,
From doing your pleasure on My holy day,
And call the Sabbath a delight,
The holy day of the LORD honorable,
And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways,
Nor finding your own pleasure,
Nor speaking your own words,
Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD;
And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth,
And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.
The mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
a. Call the Sabbath a delight…the holy day of the LORD honorable: The Sabbath was another empty religious observance for the Jewish people of Isaiah’s day. God calls them to take a delight in the heart and in the purpose of the Sabbath – to honor Him, not doing your own ways.
i. This fits in perfectly with the fulfillment of the Sabbath in light of the finished work of Jesus. We keep the Sabbath when we set aside every day to honor Him, and by not doing your own ways as a means of justifying ourselves.
ii. Are Christians required to keep the Sabbath today? The New Testament makes it clear that Christians are not under obligation to observe a Sabbath day (Colossians 2:16-17; Galatians 4:9-11), because Jesus fulfills the purpose and plan of the Sabbath for us and in us (Hebrews 4:9-11).
iii. Galatians 4:10 tells us that Christians are not bound to observe days and months and seasons and years. The rest we enter into as Christians is something to experience every day, not just one day a week – the rest of knowing we don’t have to work to save ourselves, but that our salvation was accomplished in Jesus (Hebrews 4:9-10).
iv. The Sabbath commanded here and observed by Israel was a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ (Colossians 2:16-17). We have a rest in Jesus that is ours to live in every day. Therefore, since the shadow of the Sabbath is fulfilled in Jesus, we are free to keep any day – or no day – as a Sabbath after the custom of ancient Israel. However, though we are free from the legal obligation of the Sabbath, we dare not ignore the importance of a day of rest – God has built us so that we need one.
v. If anyone would insist on the Sabbath, they must also insist on the six-day work week. Exodus 20:9, in the command regarding the Sabbath, says Six days you shall labor and do all your work. Adam Clarke says on that passage, “He who idles his time away in the six days is equally culpable in the sight of God as he who works on the seventh.” (Clarke)
b. Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD: When we keep the meaning of the Sabbath, not merely as an empty religious ritual, then you shall delight yourself in the LORD. God will bless us, and we shall delight, not only in the blessings, but in the LORD Himself. We know it is sure because the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
i. In this chapter, God exposed the emptiness of two religious rituals as practiced in Isaiah’s day: fasting and Sabbath keeping. Both of these are expressions of not doing things. In fasting, you don’t eat. In Sabbath keeping, you don’t work. An important aspect of this chapter is showing us that what we don’t do isn’t enough to make us right before God. Our walk with God shouldn’t only be defined by what we don’t do. What do we do for the LORD?
(c) 2021 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – firstname.lastname@example.org
Isaiah 57 – The Spiritual Adultery of God’s People
A. Judah’s idolatry is like spiritual adultery.
1. (1-2) The persecution of the righteous.
The righteous perishes,
And no man takes it to heart;
Merciful men are taken away,
While no one considers
That the righteous is taken away from evil.
He shall enter into peace;
They shall rest in their beds,
Each one walking in his uprightness.
a. The righteous perishes: Carrying on the rebuke of Judah’s leaders from the previous chapter, the LORD speaks to the persecution of the righteous. In this case, it is persecution through neglect (the righteous perishes and no man takes it to heart).
i. When Isaiah proclaimed this is important. Many critics of the Bible demand that Isaiah was written after the Babylonian exile because so many events after the exile are precisely prophesied. But the sins described in this chapter are strictly before the exile. This chapter is a marvelous proof that the book of Isaiah was written in the days of Isaiah, by one author, and before the exile.
ii. “There is no evidence of corresponding post-exilic practices. A prophet in the post-exile could not have written like this.” (Motyer)
iii. “All in all we prefer to think of the reign of Manasseh, for the abominations of this king are all found in this chapter.” (Bultema)
b. The righteous is taken away from evil. He shall enter into peace: Though the righteous were ignored and persecuted by the wicked leaders of Judah, God would not forsake them. When they perished, when merciful men were taken away, God used it to bless the righteous, to take them away from evil and to allow them to enter into peace.
2. (3-10) The spiritual adultery of God’s people.
“But come here,
You sons of the sorceress,
You offspring of the adulterer and the harlot!
Whom do you ridicule?
Against whom do you make a wide mouth
And stick out the tongue?
Are you not children of transgression,
Offspring of falsehood,
Inflaming yourselves with gods under every green tree,
Slaying the children in the valleys,
Under the clefts of the rocks?
Among the smooth stones of the stream
Is your portion;
They, they, are your lot!
Even to them you have poured a drink offering,
You have offered a grain offering.
Should I receive comfort in these?
“On a lofty and high mountain
You have set your bed;
Even there you went up
To offer sacrifice.
Also behind the doors and their posts
You have set up your remembrance;
For you have uncovered yourself to those other than Me,
And have gone up to them;
You have enlarged your bed
And made a covenant with them;
You have loved their bed,
Where you saw their nudity.
You went to the king with ointment,
And increased your perfumes;
You sent your messengers far off,
And even descended to Sheol.
You are wearied in the length of your way;
Yet you did not say, ‘There is no hope.’
You have found the life of your hand;
Therefore you were not grieved.
a. Whom do you ridicule? The wicked among God’s people made fun of the righteous. They mocked them, and God heard it. Here, the LORD challenges them, simply asking “Who do you think you are? Who are you mocking? Are you not children of transgression, offspring of falsehood?”
i. This speaks to a common sin of human nature – to see the sins or the problems of others while being blind to our own sins or problems.
b. Inflaming yourselves with gods under every green tree: Here, the LORD begins to expose the spiritual adultery of His people. They are “hot” with passion for other gods, worshipping them in the ritual worship places of Canaanite paganism (every green tree…. among the smooth stones of the stream…. on a high and lofty mountain).
i. In this picture, the LORD is the husband of Israel, and their passionate, chronic attraction for idols was like the lust of an adulterer. His people pursued the false gods like a lover runs after the focus of their love, and they yield themselves to the idols as a lover yields themselves to their beloved (you have uncovered yourself to those other than Me).
ii. “According to the presentation of verse seven, the whoredom of Judah is compared to that of an adulteress who has become so impudent that she no longer commits her sins in secret but publicly and shamelessly. She acts without any restraint and refuses to blush with shame.” (Bultema)
c. Under every green tree: The picture of “spiritual adultery” is especially fitting, because many of the pagan gods the Israelites went after were “worshipped” with debased sex rituals. A green tree might be a place of such idolatry because the evergreen tree spoke of constant fertility.
d. Slaying the children in the valleys: One of the Canaanite gods the Israelites worshipped was named Molech, and he received children as sacrifices. Molech was “worshipped” by heating a metal statue representing the god until it was red hot, then by placing a living infant on the outstretched hands of the statue, while beating drums drowned out the screams of the child until it burned to death. Molech was one of the “lovers” God’s people forsook the LORD for in their spiritual adultery.
i. People who would not make a small sacrifice for the LORD God would kill their own children for a pagan idol! “And as the love of harlots is oft hotter than that of husband and wife, so superstition many times outdoeth true religion.” (Trapp)
e. Even to them you have poured a drink offering, you have offered a grain offering: These are the sacrifices that should have been given to the LORD. But His unfaithful people gave them to idols instead.
i. “For the devil is God’s ape, and idolaters used the same rites and offerings in the worship of idols which God has prescribed in his own [worship].” (Poole)
f. Also behind the doors and their posts you have set up your remembrance: In Deuteronomy 6:4-9, God told Israel to inscribe His name and His word on every door post. Here, there was a perverse twisting of that – they remembered their pagan gods behind the doors and their posts.
i. “The sensitive Israelite reader would, of course, remember that it was the word of God – and, most aptly, the assertion that there is only one God – that was to be inscribed on the doors.” (Grogan)
g. You are wearied in the length of your way: As time went on, the spiritual adultery of God’s people wasn’t rewarding. After the initial thrill of their spiritual adultery wore off, they were wearied. But even then, they would not repent (Yet you did not say, “There is no hope”).
B. God describes His dealing with His disobedient people.
1. (11-13) The end of God’s patience with His people.
“And of whom have you been afraid, or feared,
That you have lied
And not remembered Me,
Nor taken it to your heart?
Is it not because I have held My peace from of old
That you do not fear Me?
I will declare your righteousness
And your works,
For they will not profit you.
When you cry out,
Let your collection of idols deliver you.
But the wind will carry them all away,
A breath will take them.
But he who puts his trust in Me shall possess the land,
And shall inherit My holy mountain.
a. And of whom have you been afraid, or feared, that you have lied and not remembered Me: Here, the LORD confronts the fact that His people do not fear Him, and that they do fear someone or something else. Nor taken it to your heart: Their superficial relationship was connected to a low view of God, and their lack of respect for Him.
b. Is it not because I have held My peace from of old that you do not fear Me? Why did God’s people lack respect for Him? In part, because He showed mercy and did not punish their sin immediately. They made a crucial error, common to fallen humanity: they mistook God’s mercy and forbearance for weakness or lack of resolve.
c. I will declare your righteousness and your works, for they will not profit you: God’s people didn’t trust in Him, and the things they did trust in – themselves, and their idols (let your collection of idols deliver you) could not help them. Their idols were so weak and helpless that a breath will take them.
d. He who puts his trust in Me shall possess the land, and shall inherit My holy mountain: This is the contrast to those who turned away from God. Trust in the LORD makes a person secure, while trust in one’s self or in idols ends in ruin.
2. (14) A stumbling block removed.
And one shall say,
“Heap it up! Heap it up!
Prepare the way,
Take the stumbling block out of the way of My people.”
a. Heap it up! Heap it up: This doesn’t describe setting things in the way of those coming to God. Instead, using the same imagery as Isaiah 35:8, which describes a highway for God’s people, meaning a raised road that is above all obstacles. Heap it up refers to the building of this road, so that God’s people can return to Him without obstacle.
b. Prepare the way, take the stumbling block out of the way of My people: Whatever gets in the way of our getting right with God must be taken out of the way. In the following verses, the LORD deals with those obstacles.
3. (15-21) God describes the way of peace and restoration.
For thus says the High and Lofty One
Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
With him who has a contrite and humble spirit,
To revive the spirit of the humble,
And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
For I will not contend forever,
Nor will I always be angry;
For the spirit would fail before Me,
And the souls which I have made.
For the iniquity of his covetousness
I was angry and struck him;
I hid and was angry,
And he went on backsliding in the way of his heart.
I have seen his ways, and will heal him;
I will also lead him,
And restore comforts to him
And to his mourners.
“I create the fruit of the lips:
Peace, peace to him who is far off and to him who is near,”
Says the LORD,
“And I will heal him.”
But the wicked are like the troubled sea,
When it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.
“There is no peace,”
Says my God, “for the wicked.”
a. For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: To be right with God, the first thing to do is to understand His great majesty. The LORD introduces Himself to His people with titles reflecting His great majesty and expects His people to respond to Him as such a glorious God.
b. To revive the spirit of the humble: Though God is the High and Lofty One, and lives in the high and holy place, at the same time He will live with men – with him who has a contrite and humble spirit. This is the second thing to being right before God: being contrite and humble before the God of great majesty.
c. For I will not contend forever, nor will I always be angry: The third thing to understand in getting right with God is His great love. Here, the LORD shows His mercy to His people but promises to relent and not be angry forever. Though God disciplined His people, He now says, I have seen his ways, and will heal him; I will also lead him, and restore comforts to him.
d. Peace, peace, to him who is far off and to him who is near: In His mercy, God invites all men to peace – both him who is far off and him who is near. Each one can receive God’s shalom, which is more than the absence of hostility; it is the gift of precious well-being.
i. In Ephesians 2:17, Paul speaks of Jesus fulfilling this promise exactly: And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. As revealed through Paul, God shows that him who is far off refers to the Gentiles, while him who is near is the Jewish man. Both can come to peace through receiving God’s gift through Jesus.
e. But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest…. there is no peace…for the wicked: In contrast to those who return to God, the wicked are still without peace. God’s great mercy is held out to man – but it must be received.
i. “Their minds are restless, being perpetually hurried and tormented with their own lusts and passions, and with the horror of their guilt, and the dread of Divine vengeance due unto them, and ready to come upon them.” (Poole)
ii. Isaiah 57:20-21 is a good example of how the sea was thought to be a dangerous, dark, restless place in the mind of the ancient Jews. No wonder that in the new heaven and the new earth, there is no more sea (Revelation 21:1).
(c) 2021 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – email@example.com
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