Isaiah 54 to 59

The Kingdom of Zion

Isaiah 54

 1. Sing, O barren, you that did not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, you that did not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, says the LORD.

Verse 1: Rejoice: This verse is quoted in Gal. 4:27 and applied to the church which is the spiritual Israel and corresponds to heavenly Jerusalem or Zion. There is little doubt that the Apostles understood that the church of Christ is the fulfillment of the prophecies of the restoration of Zion under Messiah Jesus.

 2 Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of your habitations: spare not, lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes; 3 For you shall break forth on the right hand and on the left; and your seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited. 4 Fear not; for you shall not be ashamed: neither be you confounded; for you shall not be put to shame: for you shall forget the shame of your youth, and shall not remember the reproach of your widowhood any more. 5 For your Maker is your husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and your Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; He shall be called The God of the whole earth. 6 For the LORD has called you as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when you were refused, says your God. 7 For a small moment have I forsaken you; but with great mercies will I gather you.

Verse 7: Forsaken you: The period of forsaking is during the captivities, both that of Israel in Assyria and the Jews in the Babylonian captivity when the nation was abandoned by YHWH and HIS shekina was withdrawn. The departure and return of the Shekinah is recorded in Ezekiel. One year before the destruction of the temple, the three dimensional representation of the presence of God (shekinah) departed from the temple, recorded in Ezekiel 11:22-25. The return to the temple of the same three dimensional manifestation of the presence of YHWH is recorded in Ezek 43:1-7. The completion of this "forsaking" is one of the 70 year periods accomplishing the desolations recorded by Jeremiah 25:11-12 and referred to by Daniel.

In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; 2 In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
Daniel 9:1-2

Notice that the word "desolations" is plural, implying more than one thing in Jerusalem would be desolate (uninhabited.) There are actually three elements which were desolate for the required number of years.The three 70 year periods cover the same approximate time period but not the exact. There were 70 years from the beginning of the captivity of the people from 606 to the decree of Cyrus to return in 536 BC. 70 years are also accomplished from the destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar in 585 BC until the dedication of the second temple in the 6th year of the reign of Darius in 515 BC. It is also 70 years from the departure of the Shekina in 586 BC (one year before the destruction) until the return of the Shekinah (one year before the completion and dedication) in 516 BC.

 Thus this verse in Isaiah is both historical and prophetic. The desolation of Israel (the "10 tribes") was no doubt an established fact by this time in the chronology of the book but the destruction of Jerusalem and the withdrawal of the Shekinah were future events, as also were the restoration and return of the Shekinah. The return of the Shekinah is referred to as just imminent in Zec 2:10 and as having been accomplished just a few years later in Zec 8:3 before the rededication of the temple in the 6th year of Darius.

8 In a little wrath I hid my face from you for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on you, says the LORD your Redeemer. 9 For this is as the waters of Noah to me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you. 10 For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, says the LORD that has mercy on you.

Verse 9: Sworn not to be angry with Israel-Zion: Paul's argument in Gal 4:27ff is that there are two wives of Abraham and that one, Hagar, brought forth children of the flesh and one, Sarah, brought forth children of promise. The child of the flesh persecuted the child of promise and Paul makes the application that the natural nation has left Zion to join the enemy and now persecutes the true woman and her children of promise. Thus God has not broken his promise never to abandon Zion again. Zion has continued and as in Paul's day there is a Jewish remnant into which the Gentiles have been called. See Zechariah and Jewish Renewal by Fred P Miller pages 157 to 170 for a discussion of another prophecy which outlines the departure of the natural nation of Jews from Israel to join the enemy and attack Jerusalem (that is: Jerusalem which is above or Spiritual messianic Zion).

11. O you afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay your stones with fair colors, and lay your foundations with sapphires. 12 And I will make your windows of agates, and your gates of carbuncles, and all your borders of pleasant stones.

Verses 11 and 12: Precious stones: Here is a very good example of a passage that is highly poetic and not to be taken literally but the import of which can not be missed. Zion is here personified as the wife of YHWH and she is to be bedecked with Jewels. Zion is not a person but the habitation of the saved of all ages in both the Old and the New Testament. That habitation is pictured as being richly endowed.

13 And all your children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of your children. 14 In righteousness shall you be established: you shall be far from oppression; for you shall not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near you. 15 Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against you shall fall for your sake. 16 Behold, I have created the smith that blows the coals in the fire, and that brings forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy. 17 No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, says the LORD.

Isaiah 55

 1. Ho, every one that thirsts, come you to the waters, and he that has no money; come, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Why do you spend money for that which is not bread and your labor for that which satisfies not? Listen diligently to me, and eat that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. 3 Incline your ear, and come to me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. 4 Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people.

 Verses 3 and 4: Sure Mercies of David: literally the faithful mercies of David. Quoted by the Apostle Paul in Acts 13:34 in his sermon at Antioch in Pisidia and applied to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The whole context includes the idea that there is a new covenant and a renewal of soul for the one who receives the faithful mercies of David. Paul argues as Peter did that since David is dead and saw corruption that the promise could not have been to David. Verse 4 is addressed to the servant of God who is the main character in these pages since he was first introduced in chapter 7. He is the witness to the people, a leader and commander and he brings the sure mercies of David.

5 Behold, you shall call to a nation that you know not, and nations that you did not know shall run to you because of the LORD your God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he has glorified you. 6. Seek the LORD while he may be found, call upon him while he is near: 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return to the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and returns not there, but waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing where I sent it. 12 For you shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

Isaiah 56

 1. Thus says the LORD, Keep you judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. 2 Blessed is the man that does this, and the son of man that lays hold on it; that keeps from polluting the sabbath, and keeps his hand from doing any evil. 3. Neither let the son of the stranger, that has joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD has utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. 4 For thus says the LORD to the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; 5 Even to them will I give in my house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. 6 Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keeps the sabbath from polluting it, and takes hold of my covenant; 7 Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon my altar; for my house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. 8 The Lord GOD which gathers the outcasts of Israel says, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered to him. 9. All you beasts of the field, come to devour, yea, all you beasts in the forest. 10 His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. 11 Yes, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter. 12 Come, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.

Isaiah 57

 1. The righteous perishes, and no man lays it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. 2 He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness. 3. But draw near here, you sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and the whore. 4 Against whom do you sport yourselves? against whom do you make a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue? are you not children of transgression, a seed of falsehood, 5 Inflaming yourselves with idols under every green tree, slaying the children in the valleys, is your portion under the cliffs of the rocks? 6 Among the smooth stones of the stream; they, they are your lot: even to them have you poured a drink offering, you have offered a meat offering. Should I receive comfort in these?

Verse 6: Smooth stones: The translation (smooth) is based on the Masoretic pointing which doubles the lamed in "cheleq" and changes the meaning of the word from portion to smooth. Without the interpretive pointing of the Masoretes the first and third words in this sentence are the same and they would both mean portion, as an inherited plot of ground. Verse 5 has already introduced this portion as the valleys where they offered their children to Moloch. Here in this verse the valley is again emphasized as the portion that they have received by lot or inheritance due to their evil deeds. The verse actually means: "In the portions of the valley is your portion, "They, even they are your inheritance." (The valley where the children were slain.) The LXX is also an "interpretive" translation. The Sages who did the translating 285 BC do not mention "smooth" or "stones" in this verse. The simply wrote: "This is your portion, this is your lot."

 7 Upon a lofty and high mountain have you set your bed: even there you went up to offer sacrifice. 8 Behind the doors also and the posts have you set up your remembrance: for you have uncovered yourself to another than me, and are gone up; you have enlarged your bed, and you made a covenant with them; you loved their bed where you saw it. 9 And you went to the king with ointment, and increased your perfumes, and you sent your messengers far off, and debased yourself even to Sheol. 10 You are wearied in the greatness of your way; yet you did not say, There is no hope: you have found life by your own hand; therefore you were not grieved. 11 And of whom have you been afraid or feared, that you have lied, and have not remembered me, nor laid it to your heart? have not I held my peace even of old, and you fear me not? 12 I will declare your righteousness, and your works; for they shall not profit you. 13. When you cry, let your companies deliver you; but the wind shall carry them all away; vanity shall take them: but he that puts his trust in me shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain; 14 And shall say, Cast you up, cast you up, prepare the way, take up the stumbling block out of the way of my people. 15 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 also that is of a contrite, and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

Verse 15: Hebrew "shokeyn" translated "One who inhabits" is as close a reference to God using the "Shekinah" motif as any verse in the Bible. This is a masculine participle, the feminine participle of the same word is "Shekinah."

 16 For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always angry: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made. 17. I was angry because of the iniquity of his covetousness and struck him: I hid myself, and was angry, and he went on stubbornly in the way of his heart. 18 I have seen his ways, but will heal him: I will also lead him, and restore comforts to him and to his mourners. 19 I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, says the LORD; and I will heal him. 20 But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. 21 There is no peace, says my God, to the wicked.

Isaiah 58

 1. Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. 2 Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, as though not forsaking the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God. 3. Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and you see not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and you take no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, and perform all your labors. 4 Behold, you fast for strife and debate, and to strike with the fist of wickedness: you shall not fast as you do this day to make your voice to be heard on high. 5 Is this the fast that I have chosen as a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? will you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? 6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? 7 Is it not to deal your bread to the hungry, and that you bring the poor that are cast out into your house? when you see the naked, that you cover him; and that you hide not yourself from your own flesh? 8. Then shall your light break forth as the morning, and your health shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your reward. 9 Then shall you call, and the LORD shall answer; you shall cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If you take away from the midst of you the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; 10 And if you draw out your soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall your light rise in obscurity, and your darkness be as the noonday: 11 And the LORD shall guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and make fat your bones: and you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. 12 And they that shall be of 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 paths to dwell in. 13. 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 of the LORD, honorable; and shall honor him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words: 14 Then shall you delight yourself in the LORD; and I will cause you to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father: for the mouth of the LORD has spoken it.

Isaiah 59

 1. Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. 3 For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has muttered perverseness. 4 None calls for justice, nor any pleads for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity. 5 They hatch cockatrice' eggs, and weave the spider's web: he that eats of their eggs dies, and that which is crushed breaks out into a viper. 6 Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works: their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands. 7 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. 8 The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whoever travels in them shall not know peace. 9. Therefore is judgment far from us, neither does justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness. 10 We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noonday as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men. 11 We all roar like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for judgment, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far off from us. 12 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; 13 In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. 14 And judgment is turned away backward, and justice stands afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. 15 Yes, truth fails; and he that departs from evil makes himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. 16. And he saw that there was no man, and was stunned that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation to him; and his righteousness sustained him.

Verse 16: His Arm: The "arm of the LORD" is a phrase that is used exclusively to refer to the Messiah in Isaiah. See Isaiah 51:9 Salvation and the "arm of YHWH are linked together in those passages. Thus here the introduction to the next section is being introduced. This is cleared a little by the next reference to the messianic mission in verse 17 where the name "Jesus" and the word "salvation" are the same and also in verse 20 just below this where the obvious messianic phrase "And the Redeemer shall come to Zion," is used. This chapter ends properly with the reintroduction of the Messiah who has not been mentioned as often in chapters 54 to 59 as would be expected after the crescendo of chapter 53,--the Gospel in Isaiah. From chapter 54 to 59 the material has emphasized why the Jewish nation was alienated from God, That is: that although they perfunctorily kept all religious ordinances they were preoccupied with worldliness and cared more for the things of the age than for the appearance of Zion. Following this section there is a return to the emphasis on Messiah's kingdom that is described more fully in the introduction to the last section which you may look at here .(link to intro 60)

17 For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak.

Verse 17: Salvation: This is one of the several verses in Isaiah where the word "salvation" stands alone with no preformatives or sufformatives and is equal to the name Jesus. It is interesting that in all these places the context is messianic and 3 of the 5 places also have the word NAZAR in the same contexts. See the notes on 52:7 for links.

18 According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompense to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompense. 19 So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. 20 And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and to them that turn from transgression in Jacob, says the LORD.

 Verse 20: Redeemer: For the reason for this reference to the Messiah see the note above in verse 16,

 21 As for me, this is my covenant with them, says the LORD; My spirit that is upon you, and my words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, nor out of the mouth of your seed, nor out of the mouth of your seed's seed, says the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.

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