“Who is this who comes from Edom, in crimsoned garments from Bozrah, he who is splendid in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength? “It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save.” Isaiah 63:1 (ESV)
Isaiah 63 begins with a series of rhetorical questions as to the identity of a warrior. This image of a strong man of battle is also found in Isaiah 59:14-19. The warrior does not engage in a physical confrontation. Rather, it is a spiritual fight. The mighty warrior is none other than Yahweh. He is the source and subject of the watchmen’s good news to God’s people and the people of the nations.
The Prophet Isaiah wondered aloud who it was who would come from Edom. Edom was the region south of the Dead Sea, north of the Red Sea, east of the Rift Valley, and west into the Negev (Genesis 32:4; Judges 5:4). This mighty warrior would be coming from this wicked nation southeast of Israel that often opposed God’s people and therefore was under God’s wrath (Isaiah 34:5-9; Malachi 1:1-5). Edom represents the ungodly and proud heathen nations.
He would also be coming from Bozrah. Bozrah was a city of Edom (Genesis 36:33; 1 Chronicles 1:44; Jeremiah 49:13, 22; Amos 1:12).
He would be attired in crimsoned garments. His clothes would be a deep, vibrant red; glowing and brilliant. The reason the warrior’s garments will be crimson (Isa. 63:1) and red (v. 2) because they are stained with blood (v. 3) from slaughtering His enemies (the nations, vv. 3, 6) in Edom. Red is the sign of judgment.
This warrior will be splendid in his apparel. He will wear honored and respected raiment. He will also be one who marches in the greatness of His strength. He strides in a purposeful manner. He does so because His power and ability is abundant and plentiful. His robe of splendor signifies His power and glory as He will stride forward toward Israel to save (deliver) her (cf. Rom. 11:26).
Who is this mighty warrior? Yahweh identified the warrior as none other than Himself. He is the One who continually speaks righteously, with justice, honesty and holiness. He is the One who is mighty to save and deliver His people from the penalty, power and eventual presence of their sin and their enemies.
John Calvin writes, “The LORD comes forth with red garments in the view of His people, that they may know that He is their protector and avenger. For when the people were weighed down by innumerable evils which remained unpunished, a dangerous temptation might arise, as if these things happened by chance, or as if God did not care for His people, or chastised them too severely. If the Jews were punished for despising God, much more the Edomites, and other avowed enemies of the name of God, ought to have been punished.”
Our LORD remains our mighty warrior. He alone is mighty to save.
Soli deo Gloria!