Isaiah: Judgment and Salvation for Israel.

Isaiah 65-66 forms the LORD’s response to the Prophet Isaiah’s prayer contained in Isaiah 63-64. The LORD not only repeated the warnings of judgment but also the blessings of salvation. This oracle of judgment and blessing was not only for the Jews but also for the Gentiles. Today, we examine God’s present and future work among Israel (65:2–16, 18–19; 66:1–5, 7–14, 18–21)

Regarding the LORD’s present work within Israel, there are those who remain rebellious ((65:2–7, 11–15; 66:3–4). Their perversions include idolatry (65:2–3), witchcraft (65:4), and hypocrisy (65:5; 66:3).  They are a stench in God’s nostrils because they choose their own ways.

The LORD will punish them for their sins (65:6–7). They pay for their sins and for the sins of their ancestors. They will be cut down by the sword (65:11–12): They are destroyed because they did not listen to the Lord. They will suffer from hunger and thirst (65:13), they will cry out in sorrow (65:14), they will become a curse among the people (65:15), and they are ultimately responsible for all these things because they did not listen to the LORD (66:4).

However, the LORD reminds us that He always has a remnant. These are His righteous ones. Throughout the ages they will be preserved and made prosperous in the land (65:8–10), they will be esteemed by God for their humility (66:1–2), and they will hear God’s reassuring voice (66:5).

With respect to the LORD’s future work within Israel, the nation will be reborn in a single day (66:7-9). Additionally, the people will be totally forgiven (65:16).  God will put aside his anger and forgive their evil, and Jerusalem will be rebuilt and filled with rejoicing (65:18–19). There will be no more crying in the city. Also, the city will enjoy financial prosperity (66:10–12). The wealth of nations will flow to the city, and it will be blessed with peace. The people will be comforted by God himself (66:13). He will comfort them as a mother comforts her child. Finally, the people will rejoice (66:14) when they see their city and they will be filled with joy. The people will also see God’s glory (66:18–21). They will come from every nation to his holy mountain.

Dr. John Walvoord writes, “As the climax to the book, this chapter (66) fittingly describes the millennium, the time toward which history has been looking, which was promised to Abraham.  Israel will be as enduring as the new heavens and the new earth. All mankind (i.e., people from all nations) will worship the Lord, bowing down before Him. As Isaiah had frequently written, these righteous ones will contrast greatly with those who rebelled against the Lord. They will suffer eternal torment (cf. Mark 9:48). This awesome way in which the majestic Book of Isaiah concludes points to the need for unrepentant people to turn to the Lord, the only God, the Holy One of Israel.”

 Dr. R. C. Sproul comments that, “Isaiah conveys the glorious blessing of the new heavens and earth in today’s passage when he says “some of them also I will take for priests” (Isa. 66:21). He is referring to the Gentiles, and this would have been incredible for the original audience to hear. Most Jews could not be priests, but the fact that God would make some Gentiles priests points to the equality of Jew and Gentile under the new covenant. In Christ, we are all priests to the Most High God.

 Soli deo Gloria!  

 

Isaiah: Judgment and Salvation for the Heathen.

Isaiah 65-66 forms the LORD’s response to the Prophet Isaiah’s prayer contained in Isaiah 63-64. The LORD not only repeated the warnings of judgment but also the blessings of salvation. This oracle of judgment and blessing was not only for the Jews but also for the Gentiles. Today, we examine God’s present and future work among the Gentiles (65:1, 17, 20–25; 66:6, 15–17, 22–24).

The LORD’s present work among the Gentile nations is stated in 65:1: “I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be 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.” God is revealing himself to non-Jewish people, and for a while he is choosing saved Gentiles instead of Israel to perform his will (Romans 9-11).

But what of God’s future dealings with the Gentiles? Isaiah addressed this issue in 65:17, 20–25; 66:6, 15–17, 22–24). The entire world will be subjected to universal punishment and then to perfection.

The punishment will take place during the tribulation (66:6, 15-17). God will take vengeance upon His enemies. He will come to the earth and bring His judgment.

What will follow will be peace of the Millennial Kingdom (65:17, 20–25; 66:22–24). Some features of the Millennium include:

  • There are no infant deaths (65:20a).
  • All but the rebellious live to celebrate their 100th birthdays (65:20b): Only sinners die young.
  • A time of great prosperity (65:21–23): They live in their own houses, eat from their own vineyards, and are blessed by the Lord.
  • A time when prayers are instantly answered (65:24): Before the prayers are spoken, God answers them.
  • The wolf, lamb, lion, and ox dwell in perfect harmony (65:25).
  • The permanent creation of new heavens and earth (65:17; 66:22): No one thinks of the old ones anymore, for the new ones are so beautiful and will last forever.
  • Universal worship of God (66:23): Everyone worships God regularly.
  • A sober reminder of the holiness of God (66:24): The rebellious are devoured by worms and are destroyed by fire.

 Dr. John Walvoord writes, In several ways the Lord’s response to the remnant’s prayer sums up the message of the entire Book of Isaiah. The Lord said that though He had constantly been presenting His love to Israel, they had rejected Him which made judgment necessary (65:1–7). However, in that judgment, a remnant will be preserved (vv. 8–12). The consequences of righteous living differ from those of wicked living (vv. 13–16). The Lord will establish a glorious kingdom in which peace and righteousness will flourish (vv. 17–25). Throughout the chapter, as well as throughout the book, the prophet implicitly pleaded for the people to place their trust in the Lord, their covenant God, and to live righteously.”

Have you placed your God given faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ in order to be justified by grace alone, through faith alone? If not, repent of your sin and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior (John 1:12-13).

Soli deo Gloria!

Isaiah: Remember Not Iniquity Forever.

9” Be not so terribly angry, O Lord, and remember not iniquity forever. Behold, please look, we are all your people. 10 Your holy cities have become a wilderness; Zion has become a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. 11 Our holy and beautiful house, where our fathers praised you, has been burned by fire, and all our pleasant places have become ruins. 12 Will you restrain yourself at these things, O Lord? Will you keep silent, and afflict us so terribly?” (Isaiah 64:9–12)

Isaiah, in the context of praising God for His mercy (Isaiah 63:7-9) and for His faithfulness as in the days of old (Isaiah 63:10-14), offered a prayer of repentance on behalf of God’s people because of their desolate, spiritual condition. The prophet’s prayer also comprises all of chapter 64. The prayer is reminiscent of the Prophet Daniel, which also was on behalf of God’s people, Israel (Daniel 9).

In the midst of praying and acknowledging the LORD as the sovereign potter, and His created people as His clay, the Prophet Isaiah then pleads that God would hear his prayer, forgive Israel of their sin, and heal the land (see 2 Chronicles 7:14).

Isaiah is foretelling the condition of the land and the nation prior to its actuality. The prophet is not lamenting about what has happened to God’s people, temple and city, but rather what is going to happen in the future.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Through prophetic revelation Isaiah uttered these words many years before the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple in 586 B.C. Yet, he lamented over the fallen state as though it had already occurred. God’s people were in desperate straits and their prayers urgent and persistent: “How can you stand by when your people and your land are so barren?”

Israel’s unworthiness for God’s mercy is clear. The prophet’s appeal for forgiveness and restoration and reconciliation was based totally on God’s grace. This continues to this day.

Soli deo Gloria!

Isaiah: The Sovereign Potter, and His Molded Clay.

8 “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:8)

Isaiah, in the context of praising God for His mercy (Isaiah 63:7-9) and for His faithfulness as in the days of old (Isaiah 63:10-14), offered a prayer of repentance on behalf of God’s people because of their desolate, spiritual condition. The prophet’s prayer also comprises all of chapter 64. The prayer is reminiscent of the Prophet Daniel, which also was on behalf of God’s people, Israel (Daniel 9).

Of all the symbols, metaphors and similes in the Scriptures regarding the character of God, one of the most prominent is the image of God as the potter and His created people as clay which He controls, molds and shapes for His glory.

It is an image found in Isaiah 64:8 which says, But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” This same thought and doctrine is also found in Psalm 2:9; Isaiah 29:5-16; 30:14; 45:9; Jeremiah 18:1-6; Lamentations 4:1-2).

However, there are those who recoil at this image. Many believers within the church find the image of God as a potter and His people as clay, and its implications, offensive. The metaphor explicitly asserts the sovereignty and providence of God: not only over the physical universe but also with respect to the salvation of sinners.

Romans 9:19-24 says, 19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?”

The theological significance of the metaphor of God being the potter, and we being the clay, is that God is sovereign and completely in control of the destiny of everything and everyone. He alone rules over the future of all people. We exist to be molded and shaped by Him. It is not up to us to mold and shape God into a benevolent being we can control.

Notice the present active state of being verbs in Isaiah 64:8. The prophet acknowledged that he, and the people, are like clay and God is like the potter. This metaphor affirms not only the personal existence and inherent characteristics of created individuals and the creator God, but also how these characteristics relate to each other.

Created and individual people are not God. Additionally, God is not a created figment of someone’s imagination. We are the work of His hand, so to speak, and not the other way around. The LORD is sovereign, which means that created people are not. Therein lies the problem for many. They want to be the potter of their own clay-like existence. However, God will not relinquish either His position or His power.

How do you react to the doctrine of God being a sovereign potter and you being His clay, which He molds and shapes according to the good pleasure of His will (Ephesians 1:11)? Do you find peace and comfort, or agitation and anger? Take time today to repent of any self-exalting sin and affirm God’s absolute sovereign rule in your life. Affirm today that He is not only the potter, but your potter and you are His molded clay.

Soli deo Gloria!

Isaiah: Prayer of Repentance and for Mercy. Part Two.

“Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence— as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil— to make your name known to your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at your presence! When you did awesome things that we did not look for, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him. You meet him who joyfully works righteousness, those who remember you in your ways. Behold, you were angry, and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved? We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.” (Isaiah 64:1-7)

Isaiah, in the context of praising God for His mercy (Isaiah 63:7-9) and for His faithfulness as in the days of old (Isaiah 63:10-14), offered a prayer of repentance on behalf of God’s people because of their desolate, spiritual condition. The prophet’s prayer also comprises all of chapter 64. The prayer is reminiscent of Daniel’s, which also was on behalf of God’s people, Israel (Daniel 9).

Have you every prayed and hoped that one day the LORD would descend from heaven and judge the wicked  once and for all and right all the wrongs which are being done. It’s hard not to when we witness the presence of evil ever growing in power, increasing in frequency, and intensifying in rage.

Isaiah expressed such sentiments. He prayed, ““Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence— as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil— to make your name known to your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at your presence!” (Isaiah 64:1-2).

Isaiah’s response to his own prayer (63:19) was a plea that God would burst forth and execute sudden vengeance on the enemies of God’s people (cf. Ps. 18:7–9; 144:5Hab. 3:5–6). The prophet prayed that the LORD would reveal Himself as he did at Mount Sinai (Ex. 19:18Judg. 5:5Ps. 68:8Heb. 12:18–20). As God’s name is glorified through his redemption of His chosen people (Isa. 63:14), it will also have widespread acknowledgement because of his judgment against Israel’s enemies (Ps. 99:1).

Isaiah continued in prayer and said, “3When you did awesome things that we did not look for, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him” (Isaiah 64:3-4). One more, the prophet invoked the memory of Mt. Sinai (Deuteronomy 10:1-21). The Apostle Paul echoed Isaiah’s words in I Corinthians 2:9 when he said, “But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.”

Isaiah concluded this portion of his prayer by saying, “You meet him who joyfully works righteousness, those who remember you in your ways. Behold, you were angry, and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved? We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities” (Isaiah 64:5-7).

As was the case when Isaiah caught a vision of the LORD’s holiness (Isaiah’s 6:1-7), direct exposure to the awesome character of God brings the sinner to the realization of their need for justification (Acts 16:26-30). A justification which is not in any way due to the sinner’s inherent righteousness, but rather by the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:21-26; Philippians 3:1-9) by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone.

The truth of the gospel then remains the truth of the gospel today. The righteous shall live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:16-17).

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

  

 

Isaiah: Prayer of Repentance and for Mercy. Part One.

15 “Look down from heaven and see, from your holy and beautiful habitation. Where are your zeal and your might? The stirring of your inner parts and your compassion are held back from me. 16 For you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us, and Israel does not acknowledge us; you, O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name. 17 O Lord, why do you make us wander from your ways and harden our heart, so that we fear you not?    Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your heritage. 18 Your holy people held possession for a little while; our adversaries have trampled down your sanctuary. 19 We have become like those over whom you have never ruled, like those who are not called by your name.” (Isaiah 63:15–19)

Isaiah, in the context of his praising God for His mercy (Isaiah 63:7-9) and for His faithfulness as in the days of old (Isaiah 63:10-14), offered a prayer of repentance on behalf of God’s people because of its desolate, spiritual condition. The prophet’s prayer also comprises all of chapter 64. The prayer is reminiscent of Daniel’s, which also was on behalf of God’s people, Israel (Daniel 9).

Isiah began his prayer by asking a series of rhetorical questions of God. The prophet wanted to know if God had changed His mind regarding His chosen people. Isaiah wanted to know where God’s zeal and mighty power on behalf of His people. Was the LORD no longer compassionate and merciful?

Isaiah invoked the names of the patriarchs Abraham and Jacob. Much like the Pharisees and other religious leaders during Jesus’ day who presumed their national heritage endeared them to God (John 8), so too did the Jews of Isaiah’s day. Isaiah pleaded that God would forgive Israel of this besetting sin and redeem the nation as their heavenly Father.

Isaiah then prayed that God would not give up on His people. The sense of the prophet’s prayer is that the LORD had turned His people over to the natural consequences of their sin (Isaiah 6:9-10; Psalm 81:11-12; Hosea 4:1-17; Romans 1:18-32). The prophet wanted God to return to His people and remove the heathen conquerors from the Promised Land. He no longer wanted the people of God to be like other nations who did not know the LORD.

Dr. John Walvoord writes, “The remnant would beg God to look down on them and remember their plight in the same way He had remembered the distress of their forefathers in Egypt (cf. v. 9). They would long for a display of both His strength and His love. Though they had not been following in the tradition of Abraham or Israel (i.e., Jacob), God was still their Father (cf. 64:8) and Redeemer (41:14). Penitently the remnant would ask that God sovereignly return them, His servants, to Him, reminding Him that the temple (Your sanctuary) was destroyed (63:17–18). (This is one of many places in chaps. 40–66 which shows that Isaiah, living more than 100 years before the Babylonian Captivity, wrote prophetically to prepare that future generation of exiles for it.) Though the nation had belonged to God for centuries (from of old), it had been a long time since the people were in a proper relationship with God and His theocratic rule over them.”

Dr. R. C. Sproul concludes that, “God has always been the Father of His people (Exodus 4:22-23; Jeremiah 3:1-19). They are His children by adoption (Deuteronomy 32:1-6; Romans 8:15). They are rebellious children, and so might be disowned by earthly fathers such as Abraham or Jacob, but God will still be their father and their redeemer, buying them back from their self-inflicted bondage because of His grace and mercy.”

Isaiah’s prayer continues in chapter 64. The prophet pleaded that God would display His power as in days of old. We will examine the rest of his prayer tomorrow.

Soli deo Gloria!  

 

 

 

Isaiah: Then He Remembered.

10 “But they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit; therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them. 11 Then he remembered the days of old, of Moses and his people. Where is he who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of his flock? Where is he who put in the midst of them his Holy Spirit, 12 who caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, who divided the waters before them to make for himself an everlasting name, 13 who led them through the depths? Like a horse in the desert, they did not stumble. 14 Like livestock that go down into the valley, the Spirit of the Lord gave them rest. So you led your people, to make for yourself a glorious name.” (Isaiah 63:10–14)

A tragic response begins today’s text. In the aftermath of Isaiah’s wonderful narrative of the LORD’s mercy and salvation of His people (Isaiah 63:7-9), the prophet then shares the devastating response by God’s people to the person and work of the LORD:But they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit;” (Isaiah 63:10a).

To rebel means to be contentious, disobedient and rebellious to authority. The underlying reason for such rebellion is hostility towards the one who the individuals, and nations, rebel against. For Israel then, and for individuals today, this was an action against God which began at a particular point in time in the past but which also results in continuous behavior in the present.

Such hostility by God’s people towards God grieves God the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 4:30-32 says, 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “God is grieved when his children refuse to change the old ways of sin for those righteous ways of the new life. It should be noted that such responses by the Holy Spirit indicate he is a person. His personhood is also indicated by personal pronouns (John 14:17; 16:13), his personal care of believers (John 14:16, 26; 15:26), his intellect (1 Cor. 2:11), feelings (Rom. 8:27), will (1 Cor. 12:11), speaking (Acts 13:2), convicting (John 16:8–11), interceding (Rom. 8:26), guiding (John 16:13), glorifying Christ (John 16:14), and serving God (Acts 16:6–7).”

Be forewarned. Isaiah indicated that when such hostility occurs by God’s people, God becomes their adversary: “…therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them” (Isaiah 63:10b). If we become hostile towards God, He may very well become hostile towards us. We must not presume upon the grace and mercy of God. He will “come to blows” as it were against His people who become His adversaries.

This is the truth with which the Prophet Habakkuk struggled (Habakkuk 1-2). He realized that God’s people were rebellious. He knew they deserved God’s wrath. However, Habakkuk 3:1-2 says, “A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth. O Lord, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O Lord, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.”  

Thankfully, there is grace within this text. It is God’s grace and mercy. “Then he remembered the days of old” (Isaiah 63:11a). The people have forgotten the person and work of God. They have become hostile towards Him. Yet, He still remembers and recalls the days of old.

It is here that the prophet recalled many of the highlights of God’s sovereign and providential care of His people in the past. “…of Moses and his people. Where is he who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of his flock? Where is he who put in the midst of them his Holy Spirit, 12 who caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, who divided the waters before them to make for himself an everlasting name, 13 who led them through the depths? Like a horse in the desert, they did not stumble. 14 Like livestock that go down into the valley, the Spirit of the Lord gave them rest. So you led your people, to make for yourself a glorious name.”

When we are tempted, tried and afflicted and therefore feel it appropriate to criticize God, or become disobediently hostile towards Him, it is wise for us to then remember the days of old. To recall the oh so many times God has led, delivered, healed, encouraged, provided, sustained, disciplined, loved, cared, and forgiven us. May we repent of the sin of rebelliousness and remember the One, True God of graciousness.

Soli deo Gloria!

Isaiah: The Blessings of the LORD.

7” I will recount the steadfast love of the Lord, the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has granted us, and the great goodness to the house of Israel that he has granted them according to his compassion, according to the abundance of his steadfast love. For he said, “Surely they are my people, children who will not deal falsely.” And 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; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.” (Isaiah 63:7-9)

Have you ever read a portion of Scripture, and then read it again? What portion of Scripture is it? Perhaps, you have read the particular portion of God’s Word you have in mind several times over the course of your life in Christ. However, all of a sudden upon recently reading the same portion, you are overwhelmed by its content and thrilled at its meaning. The words jump off the pages and resound within your soul. As I am writing this very paragraph, the Michael W. Smith composition Thy Word is playing on my computer. How appropriate. There are no coincidences.

The portion of Scripture I have in mind is Isaiah 63:7-9. I know I have it read it before. Countless timers, perhaps. However, upon reading it again in preparation for this devotional, the words resounded with clarity in my mind, emotions and will.

Isaiah recalled and remembered the steadfast love of the LORD. In so doing, he praised Yahweh for not only His graciousness, but also His goodness and compassion. All of these blessings are again according to the abundance of the LORD’s steadfast love.

The prophets exclaims that we are God’s people; children of righteousness and truth. We are God’s people because He chose to be our Savior. In all our afflictions, He too was afflicted. The phrase, the angel of His presence, is none other than a reference to the LORD Himself (Exodus 14:19; 23:20-23; 33:12-15; Numbers 20:16). The LORD remains so close to His children that He feels their afflictions as if they were His own (Exodus 3:1-2).

Isaiah concludes that the LORD has saved, has pitied, redeemed, lifted and carried His children. What was true in the context of the Old Testament covenant community of Israel, remains so in the New Testament covenant community of the church.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “All the plurals in this verse imply that language is inadequate to recite all the goodness and undeserved mercies God has showered on the nation time after time because of his everlasting covenant with them. By his elective choice, they became his people and he their Savior (43:1, 3); this guarantees that they will not always be false, but someday true and faithful to God because of his sovereign election of them” (Eph. 1:3–4).”

Soli deo Gloria!

Isaiah: The Winepress of God’s Wrath.

“Why is your apparel red, and your garments like his who treads in the winepress? “I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption had come. I looked, but there was no one to help; I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold; so my own arm brought me salvation, and my wrath upheld me. I trampled down the peoples in my anger; I made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.” Isaiah 63:2–6 (ESV)

The Prophet Isaiah described the LORD as warrior who was mighty to save in Isaiah 63:1. He then posed a question regarding the mighty warrior’s appearance. “Why is your apparel red, and your garments like his who treads in the winepress?” (Isaiah 63:2)

The mighty warrior’s clothing, which are spattered with blood, will appear red as if He had been in a winepress. The Hebrew word for “Red” is āḏōm. It is a wordplay on “Edom” (’ěḏôm). In Israel, a winepress was usually a shallow pit with a hole on the side leading out to a container. As individuals trampled on grapes in the press, the juice flowed through the hole into the container. Obviously some juice would also splatter on the individual’s clothes. The warrior’s garments were red from the blood of those he had judged. The imagery parallels Revelation 14:18–20 and 19:1-3.

Take note of the strong symbols and language of God’s wrath and judgment contained in vs. 3-6.

  • I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me;
  • I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel.
  • For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption had come.
  • I looked, but there was no one to help; I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold; so my own arm brought me salvation, and my wrath upheld me.
  • I trampled down the peoples in my anger; I made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.”

Dr. John Walvoord writes, “As the Lord will fight and defeat the nations (cf. 34:2) in the Battle of Armageddon (cf. Zech. 14:3; Rev. 16:16; 19:15–19), He will take vengeance on them (cf. Isa. 34:8; 35:4; 61:2) in His anger and wrath. God’s wrath is also pictured as being like a winepress in Revelation 14:19–20. Though that day will bring doom to the Lord’s enemies, it will mean deliverance (redemption and salvation, Isa. 63:4–5) for those of His covenant people who turn to Him.”

Dr. R. C. Sproul comments that, “The full redemption of God’s people necessarily includes judgment of His enemies, though the New Testament reveals that there is a chronological separation between the Messiah’s coming to bring salvation and His coming to bring judgment.”

People often speak of the LORD as a God of love (John 3:16; I John 4:7-11), and so He is. However, He is also the God of wrath (Romans 1:18) who will punish sin. Have you been delivered from God’s wrath by the substitutionary atonement provided solely by Jesus Christ? If so, rejoice. If not, repent and receive the imputed righteousness of Christ in place of your sinfulness.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

Isaiah: Mighty Warrior, Mighty to Save.

“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!