Isaiah

Isaiah 66 The LORD’s New House And Kingdom.

The LORD is building his house via his covenant, just as he indicated earlier to David (v. 1 Cf. II Sam. 7; I Chr. 17), made up of those who are “poor and of a contrite spirit,” who tremble at his word (v. 2). At the same time there will be judgment on the apostates who make of their sacrifices an abomination (v. 3). They will be subject to their own delusions and fears, because they did not heed his word (v. 4). The LORD will vindicate the remnant and repay the apostates who had cast them out (v. 5). This is part of that word coming from the LORD’s temple (v. 6). This would all occur in one day (vv. 7-8). The new Jerusalem would be born, and there would be rejoicing and consolation in her midst (vv. 9-11). The Gentiles will be included, with all their riches, peace will flow like a river, and they all shall be comforted (vv. 12-13). The flourishing and rejoicing of the remnant, and the indignation of his enemies will be seen by all (vv. 14-16).

Those set apart for idolatry, partaking of that which was unclean, shall be consumed (v. 17), for both their thoughts and the deeds which these brought forth (v. 18a). However, all nations will see the glory of the LORD (v. 18b). His people, in turn, would be sent out to declare his glory among the Gentiles (v. 19). These all shall be as “an offering to the LORD out of all nations,” with abundance they will come to his holy mountain, that is, to be holy servants in his kingdom, as clean vessels in his house (v. 20), some of them also serving as servants of word and sacrament (v. 21). The house and kingdom of the new heavens and the new earth will remain after the old is gone, and his people will worship him every Sabbath (vv. 22-23), even as they look at the dead corpses of the old covenant apostates, those who transgressed against the LORD (v. 24). “For behold, I create new heavens and new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind (65:17).

Isaiah

Isaiah 65 A New Heavens And A New Earth.

The LORD calls to those not asking for him, showing that this is how it always happens-the LORD must initiate for sinners to even ask for him. It is also a visitation to those outside of Israel (v. 1). The latter were guilty of rebellion, walking according to their own thoughts, and in their own ways, the latter based on the former, neither of which were good (v. 2). They were guilty of idolatry, and consulting of the dead, and partaking of all that which was unclean (vv. 3-4). So arrogant were they that they regarded themselves as more holy than the LORD (v. 5), and for all this the he would repay them for their sin, theirs and that of their forefathers, including blasphemy (vv. 6-7).

However, to keep the promise of his covenants, he would redeem the remnant, like a cluster of grapes off the vine, descendants will come from Jacob as heirs, but it would be those who are the elect that would receive the inheritance – his servants (vv. 8-9). This also found fulfillment in the advent of the Lord, as Paul made this distinction, and wrote about “a remnant according to the election of grace” (Rom. 11:5). Sharon was a “fertile plain south of Mt. Carmel, on the Mediterranean coast. It is a picture of how the Lord (sic) will transform creation (33:9; 35:1, 2)” (NGSB p. 1138 v. 10a), and “the valley of Achor a door of hope” (v. 10b; Hos. 2:15), from what was a place of judgment (Josh. 7:22-26).

On the other hand, the valley of Achor should have served as a warning to those guilty of forgetting the law of the LORD and looking to fortune and destiny (v. 11). They did this instead of listening to the word of the LORD calling out to them, all because their deeds were evil (v. 12). There then follows a series of comparisons between the remnant, the LORD’s servants, and the apostate nation – material and spiritual blessings or curses (vv. 13-15). Blessings only come through “the God of truth,” accompanying the swearing of a covenantal oath (v. 16). This is the end of the old covenant and the apostate nation with it, in the renewal of the new, the creation of the LORD, in whom he would find joy and rejoicing (vv. 17-19).

Those under the curses of the old covenant will age accordingly, as those members of the new live as youth – these are the elect, with houses and vineyards, partaking of the work of their own hands (vv. 20-22). “‘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 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” (vv. 23-25 Cf. 11:6-9; 30:19; 58:9; 61:9).

Isaiah

Isaiah 64 A Prayer Of Penitence.

Isaiah, and the remnant through him, sought the presence of the LORD in judgment on his enemies (vv. 1-3), but redemption for those waiting for him (v. 4), those remembering his ways and thus acknowledging their sin, they knew they needed to be saved (v. 5). The remnant are those who acknowledge that their own works are unclean filthy rags, iniquities like the wind take them away (v. 6). Worst of all are those who refuse to call on His name (v. 7). As their Father, he is the potter and the people are clay (v. 8 Cf. Rom. 9:20-21). Isaiah pleads for mercy, because the nation as a whole had become a desolate wilderness (vv. 9-10, 12). The holy and beautiful temple was burned with fire, and their pleasant places were laid waste (v. 11).

 

Isaiah

Isaiah 63 Judgment And Mercy.

The LORD will exercise both vengeance on His enemies, and redemption for the remnant (vv. 1-4). He alone will bring both salvation and fury (vv. 5-6). The LORD’s lovingkindnesses, being a covenantal truth, is the assurance of his people that He would be their savior (vv. 7-8). In particular, it was “the Angel of His Presence” who saved them, through love and pity redeeming them (v. 9). They had rebelled against Him, so that His Spirit was grieved (v. 10). He would remember the covenant through Moses and shepherd them again, and “put His Holy Spirit within them” (v. 11), “to make for Himself an everlasting name” (v. 12 Cf. vv. 13-14). Isaiah appeals, on behalf of the remnant, to the LORD in heaven as their Father and Redeemer, for Abraham was long since dead, and the nation had forsaken them (vv. 15-16). Some were hardened, but others wanted a return of the glory of the LORD in the salvation of His people (vv. 17-19).

Isaiah

Isaiah 62 Blessing And Assurance.

Salvation will be complete, a righteousness shining to be seen by all nations, a crown of glory and royal diadem (vv. 1-3). The nation would not be forsaken or desolate, but rather the LORD would delight in them – like a marriage would be the covenant relationship (vv. 4-5). The city will have watchmen who will not hold their peace, until the scope of this salvation comes to fruition (vv. 6-7). They will be filled with abundance, partaking of their own labours (vv. 8-10). Instead of being robbed by the nations, the latter will come to the nation to share in the blessings so the way should be prepared for them. Salvation is coming (v. 11). The LORD’s people will be holy, because they will be redeemed, sought out and forsaken no longer (v. 12).

Isaiah

Isaiah 61 Clothed With The Garments Of Salvation.

The beginning lines of this chapter were of course quoted by Jesus at the inauguration of his advent ministry (vv. 1-2a Cf. Lk. 4:18-19). This was the anointing which Jesus received as a Trinitarian act (Cf. 42:7; Ps. 45:7; Mt. 3:17; Jn. 1:32, 3:34). The good news was indeed preached to the poor, the brokenhearted healed, liberty proclaimed to the captives, and the prison was opened for those bound. These are all symbols of the full redemption which has come via the Messiah (Cf. 57:18; Ps. 147:3; Jer. 31:13; Mt. 5:1-12; 11:5; Lk. 7:22). “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins”(Acts 10:43). It is important to remember that he quoted this at beginning of his ministry.

It would not be until he ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father, to assume the Messianic reign of the kingdom of God, that what follows his quotation in the synagogue would then take place – namely, “the day of vengeance of our God” (v. 2b Cf. Mal. 4). This is ultimately what occurred with the destruction of the temple and its services in 70 AD – a judgment on apostasy, but also an end of the old with the inauguration of the new (Cf. II Th. 1:7). This vengeance is part of the dual action of this period in salvation-history – the proclamation of the acceptable year of the LORD of the covenant (v. 2a). ‘The acceptable year of the LORD’ has a clear place in the covenant, and in particular, ‘the Day of Atonement’ (Lev. 25:9).

However, ‘The day of vengeance’ also has a clear history within the covenant relationship, as the judgment of the curses for rebellion, the other side of the coin, so to speak. Recompense would come “for the cause of Zion,” Isaiah’s remnant, while simultaneously being vengeance upon the apostate nation (34:8). “For the day of vengeance is in My heart, and the year of My redeemed has come” (63:4). This is but one of many examples that the biblical theology of the latter part of Isaiah is the same as the earlier –that there is one author alone. As time went on, the apostate leadership of Israel, would soon come to realize that the vengeance spoken of was directed at them, even as the redeemed remnant would also include the Gentiles.

So, there is a remnant of Zion who mourn, but in a great reversal will be comforted and consoled, and given “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” (vv. 2c-3). This reiterates 60:21, where the branch is planted, or the work of His hands, so that they “shall all be righteous,” inherit the land, and thus glorify the LORD. The sackcloth of mourning for one’s sin, is subject to a great exchange, so that because of forgiveness his people shall be clothed with gladness (Cf. Pss. 11:7; 30:11). Only these members of the covenant are the ones who bear fruit (Cf. Jer. 17:7-8).

Who can deny that this found and continues to find, fulfillment in Jesus the Messiah, by his own declaration no less. “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (Jn. 15:8 Cf. 8:31). This passage, and many others like it, support the learned product of the Westminster Divines in that first question and answer of the Catechisms. “Question 1: What is the chief and highest end of man? Answer: Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever” (WLC). It is this remnant who would rebuild, raise up, and repair (v. 4). Restoration of the whole earth would come via covenant (49:8). In this sense they would indeed bear the name of the Servant of the LORD.

“Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell In” (58:12). We must all understand that the forgiveness is not an end in itself, rather we are redeemed that we might rebuild a truly just society. “Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will also enable you to dwell in the cities, and the ruins shall be rebuilt’” (Ezek. 36:33). Not to take away from the literal rebuilding, it can hardly be denied that the LORD had a much larger plan in view. The day of restoration began with Christ’s advent, Peter making the point in his quote from Amos (Acts 15:16-18).

We must note that Luke in his account does not say ‘land’, but rather with the dawn of the new covenant the land becomes the whole earth (Cf. Amos 9:11-15; Eph. 2:12). This restoration of the whole of creation, will include strangers and foreigners – the Gentile nations of the earth (v. 5 Cf. 60:5, 11). There would be a new culture, including a new agriculture. All the riches shall come into the new people of God, the remnant from all nations who “shall be named the priests of the LORD,” all shall be called “the servants of our God” (v. 6 Cf. Ex. 19:6; I Pet. 2:9). Shame will be exchanged with double honour – confusion with a rejoicing in the portion of providence. “Everlasting joy shall be theirs” (v. 7).

Blessing is double the loss (Cf. 40:2). Such is what comes to the “prisoners of hope…because of the blood of your covenant” (Zech. 9:11-12). This new covenant is described by Isaiah as “an everlasting covenant” (v. 8 Cf. 55:3; Gen. 17:7; Ps. 105:10; Jer. 32:40). It includes truth, justice, and contra robbery in matters religious (Cf. 1:10-20). Jew and Gentile would be blessed, including their descendants, and their children’s children (v. 9 Cf. 65:23). There will be joy and rejoicing at being clothed with the garments of salvation, a robe of righteousness, and decked with ornaments and jewels (v. 10 Cf. Ps. 132:9, 16; Hab. 3:18), the people themselves (Cf. 49:18; Rev. 21:2)! This righteousness is completely due to the LORD’s own planting (v. 11 Cf. 60:18; 62:7; Pss. 72:3; 85:11;).

Isaiah

Isaiah 60 The Glory Of Zion.

The glory of the LORD is often best seen in the midst of utter darkness, never more brightly than when it rested on the Servant-Intercessor-Redeemer (vv. 1-2). To him the nations of the whole earth have come – his own sons and daughters from afar (vv. 3-4). Here the abundance of the sea that is brought to him is the wealth of the nations, including gold and incense (vv. 5-6). Clean offerings shall be made to Him, and the LORD’s glory will rest upon Him and His house (vv. 7-9, 13, 19-20). The place of His feet was an expression that “referred to the ark of the covenant (Ps. 132:7; I Chr. 28:2); later to the temple (Ezek. 43:7; and finally, to the whole world (66:1)” (NGSB p.1132). On those who were subjects of the LORD’s wrath, He would now have mercy, and the gates of this city shall be open to all to come and build it up (vv. 10-11, 14).

Whole nations, with their kings shall serve him, otherwise they will be utterly ruined (v. 12 Cf. Pss. 2; 110). His remnant, his house, the city of the LORD, Zion would then know their covenant LORD as their only Savior, Redeemer, and the Mighty One of Jacob (vv. 15-16). This house will flourish as never before, with officers and magistrates of peace and righteousness (v. 17). This is a complete salvation which shall surround them on every side, and nothing but praise can be the point of entry-a sovereign righteous planting of the LORD. The days of mourning and violence would end, for the LORD will enlighten all who enter (v. 21). The remnant will grow in number, “a little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation. I, the LORD, will hasten it in its time” (v. 22).

Isaiah

Isaiah 59:9-21 The Remnant’s Intercessor-Redeemer.

Their sins had separated the nation from God so that he would not hear their prayers, even though there is nowhere where the LORD cannot save his people. Since there was no pursuit of truth and justice, their acts were evil, and their words were empty. “Therefore,” justice and righteousness was far from them, and this light being absent, they were overcome with darkness (v. 9 Cf. Jer. 8:15), leaving them groping around like the blind – “as dead men in desolate places” (v. 10 Cf. Job 5:14; Amos 8:9). This was in direct fulfillment of the covenantal curses that would befall the nation if they rebelled against the LORD (Cf. 24:5; Dt. 28:29). Justice, in the case of all sinful people, must be met with salvation if we are to have any hope. The people groaned like bears and moaned like doves, because both justice and salvation were absent (v. 11 Cf. 38:14; Ezek. 7:16).

It is the nature of sin that they multiply with each other, even exponentially, thus their transgressions are multiplied before the LORD (v. 12a Cf. 58:1). Their sins testified against them. Their relationship with their iniquities was intimate and personal (v. 12b). Transgressions lead to lying as we seek to cover or justify our sins (v. 13a). These transgressions are conceived in the heart, and the words spoken betray one’s revolt, they are false, and oppressive (v. 13b Cf. Mt. 12:34). As a result, “justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter” (v. 14). This is what happens when people reject the truth, some so basic as denying there is such a thing as truth. When truth falls, then justice and righteousness fall with it, and whole societies crumble as equity is denied.

Given the widespread corruption above, “he who departs from evil makes himself a prey” (v. 15a Cf. 5:23; 10:2; 29:21; 32:7). All of this was seen by the LORD and it displeased him, that “there was no justice” (v. 15b). Anyone departing from evil was clearly rare, but there was also no intercessor (v. 16a Cf. 41:28; 63:5; 64:7; Ezek. 22:30). So the LORD determined to send his own Intercessor, the Servant that he spoke of earlier, because this personage would be sustained by his own righteousness, so he alone could bring salvation. “Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; and His own righteousness, it sustained Him” (v. 16b Cf. 63:5). As the only one who could be mediator between God and humanity, he would intercede for his own, “for He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head” (v. 17a Cf. Eph. 6:14-17; I Th. 5:8).

However, this Intercessor would also “put on the garments of vengeance for clothing,” and would be “clad with zeal as a cloak” (v. 17b Cf. 61:2). This is a paradigm that runs throughout the scriptures, salvation would come to the remnant, in the immediate case of this passage, evidenced by those who depart from evil (v. 15b 62:12), but covenantal vengeance against the apostate nation, and he would do so with zeal. Zeal for his own house would consume him. This is what also took place when this Servant Intercessor finally made his advent, a light to the remnant from all nations, but vengeance upon apostate members of the old covenant administration (Cf. Ps. 69:9; Jn. 2:17). The latter were his enemies, who in his fury he would repay and recompense according to their own deeds (v. 18 Cf. 63:6; Rom. 2:6).

The people would rightfully fear when the Servant Intercessor so comes, when the covenant name LORD, and his glory, are evident for all to see (v. 19a Cf. Ps. 113:3; Mal. 1:11). When the enemy seems to be at their worst, “coming in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him” (v. 19b). This is now fulfilled in his church, the woman persecuted of Revelation 12:1-17, the devil being that dragon. This Servant Intercessor, through his role as mediator of the covenant, would also be the Redeemer of the remnant, the true Zion (Cf. Heb. 12:22-24). These are those who repent of their sins and look to him in faith (v. 20). Further proof can be seen in Paul’s quotation of these verses (20-21) at Romans 11:26-27. His covenant, his Spirit, and his words will not depart from time or eternity (v. 21 Cf. Jer. 31:33; Zech. 8:8; Heb. 8:10; 10:16).

Isaiah

Isaiah 59 Truth, Justice, And Peace.

The LORD can act for the salvation of his people no matter how far they may have strayed, and no prayer so faint that he cannot hear (v. 1). What separates us from the LORD is our iniquities and sins, these hide us from him so that he will not hear (v. 2). In the case of Israel at this time, their hands were full of blood (their deeds), and their fingers did so meticulously to every detail (v. 3a). They spoke outright lies, and lowered their voices to mutter perversity, no doubt believing that no one, even the LORD, could hear. However, the LORD hears all things, and knows our thoughts whether uttered or not. He chooses not to respond to prayers uttered by those harbouring sin.

“No one calls for justice, nor does any plead for truth” (v. 4a). There is no justice not based on truth. Needless to say, any culture wherein the relativism of pluralism prevails cannot ultimately be a just society, since it rejects the concept of absolute truth. “They trust in empty words and speak lies; they conceive evil and bring forth iniquity” (v. 4b). Words are empty when devoid of truth, therefore those conceiving them speak nothing but lies, and from their hearts (a person’s core or true self), their actions follow. They hatch what may appear as a generic egg, but the evil they have laid is really a viper, woven like a spider’s web.

All who swallow their wicked conception die, “and from that which is crushed a viper breaks out” (v. 5). They imagine that they can clothe themselves with such a web of deceit, but their works betray what they have conceive in their hearts – “violence is in their hands” (v. 6). They don’t just stumble or shuffle into evil rather, they run to it – “they make haste to shed innocent blood” (v. 7a). Heart thoughts of iniquity give birth to paths of waste and destruction (v. 7b). They do not know peace, because “there is no justice in their ways,” and any who follow their crooked paths “shall not know peace” (v. 8).

Isaiah

Isaiah 58 The Servant Will Repair The Breach And Restore The Paths.

Isaiah, and the other servants of the LORD, were called upon to declare the sins of the people (v. 1). There was a real dichotomy that existed, they were very religious, daily seeking the LORD, seeking to learn his ways, even claiming to wanting to know the “ordinances of justice” (v. 2). They fasted and afflicted their souls, but were complaining that the LORD did not see or take notice (v. 3a). They feigned fidelity to the ceremonial or religious ordinances, but they failed to follow the rest of the law and the prophets (Cf. Lev. 16:29; 23:27). Like Jezebel’s scheme to Ahab, to use the pretence of religious devotion as an occasion for the murder and theft of Naboth, the nation now was very religious, even claiming to want to know the ordinances of justice, yet all their religiosity was just a cloak to cover their injustices (vv. 4-5 Cf. I Kgs. 21:9).

A better fast in their situation was, “to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke” (v. 6). Like Nehemiah would later preach when they were returned from exile and rebuilding the city, the people needed to rebuild their lives together, by taking heed to the law, including its civil code, the very “ordinances of justice” they claimed to seek (Cf. Neh. 5:1-13). There are ordinances regarding the selling of sons and daughters as slaves (Ex. 21:7; Dt. 15:12-18), and charging usury to members in the covenant 22:25. Throughout Leviticus we find ceremonial laws alternating with the moral and civil ordinances. Then at Leviticus 25, after the ordinances related to the Sabbath of the seventh year (vv. 1-7), we find that regarding the year of Jubilee (vv. 8-17).

There is then the provisions for the seventh year (vv. 18-22), then comes the redemption of property, where we find that the land was not to be sold permanently, because the land was the LORD’s (vv. 23-34). There then follows at Leviticus 25:35-38 the dual command to lend to the poor, and to charge no usury (Cf. Dt. 15:7-11; Cf. Lev. 16:29). We then read of the ordinances regarding slavery, that any member of the covenant community who served as a slave was to be released at the year of Jubilee, because just as the land was the LORD’s, so are his servants-all members of the covenant community (vv. 39-55 Cf. Ex. 21:7). At chapter 26 there then follows the promise of blessing and cursing for fidelity to these moral and civil ordinances.

The later prophets also hearkened back to the moral and civil ordinances in the LORD’s judgments and calls to repentance (Cf. Ezek. 22:12; Zech. 7:5; Mal. 3:13-18), as did Ezra and Nehemiah (Cf. Neh. 5:9; Ezra 10:5), recognizing that this is what is involved in taking the covenantal oath, like the example of Josiah and the people under him (II Kgs. 23:3). Jeremiah also stated this after his revealing the LORD’s intent to renew the covenant with the remnant (Ch. 31; 34:8-11). This is what is involved with verses 6ff. If they fulfilled their covenantal oath they would then be a like a light dispelling the darkness, all to the glory of the LORD, and he would then hear their prayers (vv. 8-9a, 10b).

In the end, if they and we, keep the oath and follow the whole law, he will then guide us continually, satisfy our souls, strengthen our bones, and water us like a garden, with water that will not fail (v. 11). This is what is really involved in rebuilding and reconstructing “the old waste places…and raising “up the foundations of many generations” (v. 12a). However, we will not be able to do this in our own strength, therefore the LORD God promised his Servant, who would also “be called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets (or Paths) to Dwell In” (v. 12b). With this Servant, his people will truly be keeping the Sabbath, resting from their own works, finding their delight in the LORD (vv. 13-14a). Then the people will be fed with the heritage of Jacob as covenantal blessings, for it is the LORD who has spoken (v. 14b).