Isaiah Chapter Twenty Seven
Events Associated With and Following The Stroke Against Leviathan
Isaiah 27 1. In that day the LORD, with his sore and great and strong sword, shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.
. Verse 1: Leviathan: The entity set for destruction is called Leviathan the piercing (or fugitive) serpent, Leviathan the crooked (coiled) serpent, and the Dragon or Sea Monster. Delitzsch sees the repeated use of a preposition to indicate three separate worldly powers which he is at a loss to name. Rawlinson also sees three earthly powers or entities but all as extensions of Satan's influence and he suggests several trilogies of nations but is indefinite because, he says, the figures given in the text of earthly powers are too copious and varied to apply to any three individual nations. Scott proposes a threefold description of Satan himself but also holds to an earthly manifestation of Satanic power and a time toward the end of the world when God will destroy the power of Satan. The threefold destruction of the beast, false prophet and dragon in Rev. 16 are suggested.
There is no reason to assume three powers any more than to assume that God must have three swords, one sore, one great, and one strong, with or without prepositions. The three figures are poetic hyperbole used for emphasis not to call up three different entities. Satan is pictured under the three figures and what follows gives the event to be associated with his destruction. That is the event of Calvary, the death of Christ on the cross, the most important act in the whole of the Bible and which was the death blow dealt to Satan. The mention of the vineyard in verse 3, without doubt, refers to the establishment of the Zion of God under the Messiah and the double use of the mystical word NAZAR in verse 3 is further evidence, to this writer, that it is the first coming of Jesus and the establishment of the church that is spoken of. That event deals the death blow to Satan, that old serpent and dragon. John 12:31. Jesus said that it would be his death which would cause Satan to be cast out and Rev. 12:7ff makes the point that Satan was cast out at the announcement of salvation and the blood of the Lamb and the covenant. Genesis 3:15 is an allusion to the same moment when Leviathan received his judgement on Mt Calvary. It is the cross of Christ which is the sore, great and strong sword. On account of that judgement Isaiah is given a song about the vineyard, the church of Christ. More on leviathan in the next note.
Verse 1: Leviathan is the name of a sea monster or dragon that may now be extinct. Since there is no presently existing counterpart in nature of this animal which is here used as a symbol for Satan, the translators have not been able to come up with a word in English that corresponds to this creature. They have solved the problem by transliterating the Hebrew name. Leviathan is found in the Hebrew text and the translators simply wrote the same sounds with English letters. It is described as breathing fire in Job. Such a dragon-like creature may be supposed to have existed and may now be supposed to be extinct. There is no reason to believe that a fire breathing dragon did not exist anymore than any of the other extinct animals with which we are fascinated upon learning of them. Satan is pictured under the symbol of the serpent or dragon in a number of places in the scripture and it is his punishment which is spoken of here. The blow received at Calvary assures us that the casting of the dragon beast into the bottomless pit and lake of fire will have its completion. The destruction of Satan properly completes this section of terminal events of the history that began in Genesis 1:1. This section has described the end of the earth and system of things on this planet, the resurrection from the dead, the general judgement of all in earth and heavenly places and most properly ends therefore with the final destruction of Satan.
2 In that day, a desirable vineyard. sing of it!
Verse 2: Sing of the Vineyard: please see notes under Isaiah 42:10.
3 I the LORD do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.
Verse 3: "I the Lord do keep it" is from the Hebrew "Ani YHWH notserah." In speaking of the pleasant or desirable vineyard YHWH says that He will Nazarize her or make her Nazarene. In keeping with the plan of this interpretation therefore this chapter must be fulfilled in a messianic context and refers to the ingathering of remnants of the Assyrian or Babylonian captivities except only in a secondary way. The contrast of the earlier scattering and ingathering with the second and more important visitation as noticed in Isaiah 9:1ff is continued here. Also see the note under 19:24. and the note under verses 12-13 below.
Verse 3: I will KEEP it: This is a second use of (nazar) in the same verse. The word is related to the" branch" of 11:1 and is partial fulfillment of Matthew 2:23 "And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.". Thus when speaking of his vineyard which is a synonym for Zion in its perfected form he says that God will make it Nazarene!
4 Fury is not in me: who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together. 5 Or let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me. 6 He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.
Verse 6: Israel shall blossom and bud: Thus far in this chapter Isaiah has given the last details of the final events of the world in verses 1 and 2. The introduction of the church, that is the vineyard related to the Nazar or branch of chapter 11:1, is a part of the events that are associated with the destruction of Satan under the figure of Leviathan. As seen that blow was struck at Mount Calvary at the cross of Christ Jesus. The introduction of the vineyard which will rise as a consequence of the blow against Satan, follows in order and is the end of what the nation has and will patiently await. There is then further assurance of events that will take place to Israel up to that time which have already been and will yet be given attention by Isaiah, that is, the use of Assyria to punish the nation and the future exile and return from exile. During the period of the return from exile the messianic kingdom will be set up as is indicated in the verses below when the exiles will return from Egypt and Assyria. It is the mention of Assyria that brings the prophet back to the events that are contemporary with him and therefore the next chapter (28) returns to a summation of the Assyrian deportation of the Kingdom of Israel and the fall of Samaria. Following that in chapter 29 is the warnings to Judah and Jerusalem of the imminent attack of the Assyrians. Many will suffer during that time but the assurance is given that there will be a rescue by YHWH and an overwhelming destruction of Assyrian forces. This then is a chapter of transition from the "end time" events resulting from God's complete plan as a result of the setting up of Zion, or the vineyard as he says here. The end time events covered chapters 24 to the beginning of 27 and then the transition to return to current and imminent events takes place in the final part of this chapter.
Verse 6: and fill the face of the world World: not earth nor globe nor planet with continents and seas, but the word means the world system of governments and cultures, and what we call worldliness. The prediction here is that the owner of the vinyard and the vineyard (the church of Jesus) will fill up the world system. We will let the reader decide who for the past two thousand years of history has despite "briars and thorns" influenced the world system and is destined to do more so in the future, more than the carpenter of Galilee. Look for greater triumps that even the past has held.
7. Has he struck him, as he struck those that attacked him? or is he slain according to the slaughter of them that are slain by him?
Verse 7: Has he struck as: This is assurance to the nation that they will not be blotted out of history as will their oppressors who are mentioned in these pages, that is Assyria and Babylon and to a lesser degree Moab. They, Israel, are struck but not in the same measure. But also see the end of the next note.
8 In measure, when it shoots forth, you will debate with it: he stays his rough wind in the day of the east wind.
Verse 8: In measure...you will debate: Several different interpretations are offered in the differing translations of this passage. One suggests arguing during the exile (RSV); contending now while sending them away (ASV); driving them away was the contention" (NASV); the more obscure NIV says: by exile and war you fought with her (her = Zion?); God's quarrel brushes her away (NEB); God drove them out by contending (Amp.). The meaning here it seems to me is: "When She (Israel-Zion) is in exile she will consider with argument, even in rebellious terms and come to the conclusion in verse 7. That is we have survived and YHWH is still working with us as a special people." The next verse follows this thought. It is the exile that will purge the nation for future glory. The literal word for word translation of verses 7 and 8 are a contrast. I supply the contrasting "no, but." (7) Is the striking of his striking like he struck him or is the slaughter of his slaying like he slew [them] (8) [No, but] by driving them out and by sending them forth you argued with them, He drove them out with his strong wind in the day of the east [wind] The word for east here is "qadiym" which often refers to the east of ancient times when civilization was limited to the Mesopotamian valley before 3500 BCE.
Verse 8: The east wind: In the day of the east wind: In Hebrew "east" is plural and is a construction that is similar to our expression "in the day of the easterlies" that is: the attacks by Assyria and Babylon.
9 By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is all the fruit to take away his sin; when he makes all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten apart, the groves and images shall not stand up.
Verse 9: By this...iniquity ...is purged: This is consistent with the interpretation posed, that in spite of the arguing against God the exile will purge the iniquity of the nation. We will see that "iniquity" more clearly identified in chapters 40 - 49 as idolatry.
10 Yet the defended city shall be desolate, and the habitation forsaken, and left like a wilderness: there shall the calf feed, and there shall he lie down, and consume its branches. 11 When its boughs are withered, they shall be broken off: the women come, and set them on fire: for it is a people of no understanding: therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will show them no favor. 12 And it shall be in that day, that the LORD shall thresh from the channel of the river (Euphrates) to the stream of Egypt, (the wady El Arish) and you shall be gathered one by one, O you children of Israel. 13 And it shall happen in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come who were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.
. Verse 12 and 13: In that day: The phrase "in that day" means a period of time. The period of time is in the context of the nation of Israel's return from exile when Zion will ultimately appear. There are two "returns" spoken of in Isaiah. Both of them use, as a euphemism, the coming back of the nation from dispersion in Assyria and Egypt. The first return is that of the return to the second commonwealth of the Jews from Babylon and the subsequent repopulation of the whole land by remnants of all the tribes as is seen in Zechariah 10:9.10. The second return is called the "second time" in Isaiah 11:11. Isaiah 11 mentions both the first and the second return because it is obvious that you can not have a second return without a first return.. The first is the return from Babylonian exile and the second is completed by the Nazarene Branch seen in the context of the eleventh chapter. Here in this chapter both returns are telescoped and are spoken of as are the other events which were precipitated by the defeat of Satan. They are, according to this chapter, to take place when the nation is restored and Jacob, Israel, blossoms again and fills the earth with fruit. That period was the restoration in the second commonwealth from 536 BC to 70 AD. That period is called "in that day" here. For further comment on the reunion of exiles and the cooperation of Assyria and Egypt with Israel in that period see notes under Isa. 19:24.
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