Glory of Tziyon ~ Part 1 ~ Yesha’yahu 60:1-12

In my last post, we concluded our exploration of Sin, Confession & Redemption ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 59:12-21. In this post, we begin to examine the Glory of Tziyon ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 60:1-12.

Yesha’yahu 59 closed with the promise of a coming Redeemer. Chapter 60 begins with a presentation of the Redeemer. So confident was Yesha’yahu that Messiah would come, he writes in the present tense as if it had already happened.

1 “Arise, shine [Yerushalayim], for your light has come, the glory of Adonai has risen over you.

Through Adonai’s redeeming power and His eternal covenant of blessing on Isra’el, the nation will experience everlasting joy and blessing as the world capital and centerpiece of Yeshua’s reign in His millennial kingdom. Isra’el will be a light to the nations because the glory of Adonai will shine both in her and from her to the corners of the earth.

2 For although darkness covers the earth and thick darkness the peoples; on you, Adonai will rise; over you will be seen His glory.

In Yesha’yahu 59:9, the righteous among Adonai’s people expressed their desire for light, though they lived in darkness. Now Adonai announces the arrival of the light, whose source is the glory of Adonai. Darkness still covers the earth (a reference to pervasive sin), but Adonai’s hovering glory will illuminate the way for His people. How has light penetrated the darkness? Through the action of the divine warrior, Yeshua, we saw in my last post in this series.

3 Nations will go toward your light and kings toward your shining splendor.

Though the light comes to Adonai’s people, the nations will share in it by coming to light. In the millennium, entire nations and their kings will be drawn to Isra’el to learn the truth about Adonai and His salvation. The nations will respond favorably to Adonai is a fulfillment of the promise to Avraham that he would be a blessing to the nations (Genesis 12:3).

4 Raise your eyes and look around: they are all assembling and coming to you; your sons are coming from far off; your daughters being carried on their nurses’ hips.

Among the arriving nations will be the dispersed of Isra’el (your sonsyour daughters), who will also return to Tziyon. This is a common theme in Yesha’yahu, which pictures Isra’el’s sons and daughters coming from far of (see also 49:22; 60:9). Although many Jews have returned to Isra’el from many countries in recent times, many do not yet believe in Yeshua as their Messiah.

5 Then you will see and be radiant; your heart will throb and swell with delight; for the riches of the seas will be brought to you, the wealth of nations will come to you.

This golden age will also be marked by the wealth of nations coming into Isra’el.

6 Caravans of camels will cover your land, young camels from Midyan and ‘Eifah, all of them coming from Sh’va, bringing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of Adonai.

Camels were freight carriers for merchants; thus, those who had many camels were considered wealthy. Midyan was a nomadic Arabian tribe that had had dealings with Isra’el from the time of Moshe. Eifah is mentioned only two other times in Scripture (Gen 25:4; 1 Chron 1:33) and is associated with Midyan, possibly a clan of that tribe.

The kingdom of Sh’va was a great trading center in southwestern Arabia that exported precious stones, gold, and incense. It had a very advanced urban civilization in the first millennium BCE (see 2 Chronicles 9:1). [1]

Moreover, the people coming to Tziyon are proclaiming the praises of Adonai.

7 All the flocks of Kedar will be gathered for you, the rams of N’vayot will be at your service; they will come up and be received on My altar, as I glorify My glorious house.

Kedar was a nomadic Arabian tribe. The N’vayot were a nomadic tribe and may have been a precursor to the Nabataeans, an Arabian tribe known in Hellenistic and Roman times. [2]  N’vayot is elsewhere as the firstborn of Ishmael and brother of Kedar, showing a relationship between these two nomadic tribes (see Gen 25:13; 36:3; 1Ch 1:29).

8 “Who are these, flying along like clouds, like doves to their dovecotes? [3]

A cloud travels through the sky unobstructed by mountains or ravines. Doves fly above such obstacles to their homes. The implied answer to this rhetorical question is “Adonai’s people.” Many Bible teachers see in this verse how Isra’el will return home. The Jews going back to their land, gathered from all parts of the world, will fly like doves – perhaps a reference to the airplane.

9 The coastlands are putting their hope in Me, with the ‘Tarshish’ ships in the lead, to bring your children from far away, and with them their silver and gold, for the sake of Adonai your Adonai, the Holy One of Isra’el, who glorifies you.

The ships of Tarshish were large, heavy vessels built for long voyages with high tonnage. Tarshish was thought to have been a Phoenician colony in Spain. [4] In Exodus, when the Jews were freed from bondage in Egypt, the Egyptians gave the Jews valuable items (Exodus 12:36). So, when the Jews come back the second time, they’ll also bring silver and gold with them.

10 Foreigners will rebuild your walls; their kings will be at your service, for in My anger, I struck you, but in My mercy, I pity you.

In the past, foreign nations and their kings had exploited Isra’el, but the future will see them serve Adonai’s people. One thinks of Nehemiah, who received the permission of the Persian king Artaxerxes to rebuild the walls of Yerushalayim. This reversal of fortunes is due to Adonai, who had expressed His anger toward His people by allowing foreign nations to defeat and oppress them, but now in His favor and mercy, He will enable them to rebuild.

11 Your gates will always be open; they will not be shut by day or by night, so that people can bring you the wealth of nations, with their kings led in procession.

Open gates indicated that a city felt secure. When an enemy threatened, all the people in the surrounding villages sought refuge behind the city walls, and the gates were locked down. But the gates will also be open because the wealth of the nations is flowing into Yerushalayim.

12 For the nation or kingdom that won’t serve, you will perish; yes, those nations will be utterly destroyed. ~ Isaiah 60:1-12 (CJB)

We know from Revelation 20:7-9 that HaSatan will deceive and lead Gentile nations in a brief rebellion at the end of the millennial age, but this uprising will be immediately crushed, and the rebels utterly destroyed.

In my next post, we will begin to explore the Glory of Tziyon ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 60:13-22.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Dovecotes are structures built to house doves or pigeons according to Wikipedia.

[4] Op. cit.

Sin, Confession & Redemption ~ Part 2 ~ Yesha’yahu 59:12-21

In my last post, we began to explore the issue of Sin, Confession & Redemption ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 59:1-11. In this post, we conclude our exploration of this topic in Sin, Confession & Redemption ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 59:12-21.

12 For our crimes multiply before you, our sins testify against us; for our crimes are present with us; and our sins, we know them well: 13 rebelling and denying Adonai, turning away from following our God, talking about oppression and revolt, uttering lies which our hearts have conceived. 14 Thus justice is repelled, righteousness stands apart, at a distance; for truth stumbles in the public court, and uprightness cannot enter. 15 Honesty is lacking; he who leaves evil becomes a target. Adonai saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice.

The people had only themselves to blame for their lamentable situation, and they knew it. Here the people acknowledge the sin itself. The chapter concludes with a description of Adonai’s reaction to the sin and helplessness of His people. He will intercede and rescue His people despite their sin and failure.

16 He saw that there was no one, was amazed that no one interceded. Therefore, His own arm brought Him salvation, and His own righteousness sustained Him.

The section begins with a statement of Adonai’s recognition of human injustice and the offense that He takes at it. It also goes on to describe His amazement that no human was interceding on behalf of the people. Adonai proclaims that in the absence of such a human intercessor, He Himself will step into the gap between His people and Himself.

In Ezekiel 22:30, Adonai says the same thing when He says that He sought for a man to stand in the gap and intercede but found none. No one in Israel’s dark days said, “I’m going to pray.” Like us, maybe they talked about it. Like us, they were probably aware of it. But, all too often, like us, they didn’t do it. Yet does Adonai write His people off? No. He shows them grace.

17 He put on righteousness as His breastplate, salvation as a helmet on His head; He clothed Himself with garments of vengeance and wrapped Himself in a mantle of zeal.

To save His people, Adonai assumed the guise of a warrior. However, His armor and His weapons are not physical but spiritual. This sounds very familiar to the battle dress described by Sha’ul in Ephesians 6:14-17.

The concluding verses are a picture of Yeshua’s Second Coming when He will crush all His enemies and reign in righteousness. Yeshua comes as a terrifying conqueror who will sweep them away like a pent-up stream.

18 He repays according to their deeds – fury to His foes, reprisal to His enemies; to the coastlands, He will repay their due; 19 in the west, they will fear the name of Adonai, and likewise, in the east, His glory, for He will come like a pent-up stream, impelled by the Spirit of Adonai.

Adonai’s enemies do not get off without punishment. The mention of the coastlands indicates that the far-flung nations, indeed the whole world (west and east), are in mind here. The world as a whole will fear the name of Adonai after His work of retribution.

20 “Then a Redeemer will come to Tziyon, to those in Ya’akov who turn from rebellion.” So says Adonai. 21 “And as for Me,” says Adonai, “this is My covenant with them: My Spirit, who rests on you, and My words which I put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth or from the mouth of your children, or from the mouth of your children’s children, now or ever,” says Adonai. ~ Isaiah 59:12-21 (CJB)

The climax of this prophecy announces the future arrival of Adonai, the Redeemer of Tziyon, Adonai’s holy mountain in Yerushalayim. He had abandoned Tziyon in anticipation of its destruction at the Babylonian captivity, but His war against sin will result in His return. It is precisely to the repentant that He will come. He will re-establish His covenant with them. Adonai’s Ruach will be given to His people to cleanse their mouths so they will proclaim the glory of Adonai to future generations.

In my next post, we will begin to explore the Glory of Tziyon ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 60:1-12.

Click here for the PDF version.

Sin, Confession & Redemption ~ Part 1 ~ Yesha’yahu 59:1-11

In my last post, we looked at the subject of Fasting & the Shabbat in Yesha’yahu 58:1-14. In this post, we will begin to explore the issue of Sin, Confession & Redemption ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 59:1-11.

The same people who had been fasting and worshiping, fellowshipping, and studying in Chapter 58 were also praying. But they weren’t being heard. The people complained that the Lord could not rescue them, but the real problem was that they had not repented (as we will learn later in 59:20) and were still living in sin.

Yesha’yahu 58 concluded with the assurance that the Lord would fulfill His promises to Isra’el: “I will make you ride on the heights of the land and feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Ya’akov, for the mouth of Adonai has spoken” ~ Yesha’yahu 58:14 (CJB). Chapter 59 deals with Isra’el’s national salvation.

1 Adonai’s arm is not too short to save, nor is His ear too dull to hear.

This prophecy begins with an affirmation that God can hear and act, characteristics that contrast with the powerless idols that tempted Isra’el (cf. 44:6-23).

2 Rather, it is your own crimes that separate you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you so that He doesn’t hear.

Despite what the people of Yehuda may have thought, God had not suddenly become impotent, nor did He get thrashed by the pagan God. It was the sins of the people that separated them from God; this was why he had refused to hear their prayers. He was unwilling to bless them regardless of their actions. They were the problem, not Him.

3 For your hands are stained with blood and your fingers with crime; your lips speak lies, your tongues utter wicked things. 4 No one sues with just cause, no one pleads honestly in court, they trust in empty words and say worthless things; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil.

Just some of their sins that separated God from His people are listed in these two verses. The list begins with acts of violence and moves on to deceit and injustice. They were guilty in thought and action.

5 They hatch viper eggs and spin spiderwebs; whoever eats their eggs dies, and the crushed egg hatches a snake. 6 Their webs are useless as clothing; their deeds are useless for wearing; their deeds are deeds of wickedness; their hands produce violence. 7 Their feet run to evil; they rush to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of wickedness; their paths lead to havoc and ruin.

Once again, the prophecy emphasizes that people are sinful in thought and deed. Indeed, they do not merely walk in the advice of the wicked (Psalm 1:1); they show their eagerness when they run after evil.

8 The way of shalom they do not know, their goings-about obey no law; they make devious paths for themselves; no one treading them will ever know shalom.

Yesha’yahu used the words way and paths to refer to the course of a person’s life. The first nine chapters of Proverbs talk about two paths, a straight path that leads to God and life, and a crooked path that leads to death. Yesha’yahu described God’s people as choosing the latter, and thus they were headed toward death, i.e., they will not know shalom.

At last, the people acknowledge the consequences of their sin. They want justice but don’t have it. They want direction but lack it, for they continue in their sinfulness.

9 This is why justice is far from us, and righteousness doesn’t catch up with us; we look for light, but see only darkness, for brightness, but we walk in gloom.

Note the transition from third person plural speech (they) to first person (us) that begins in this verse and continues for the rest of our passage. Yesha’yahu included himself along with the people. Since the content of these verses acknowledges the people’s sinfulness, it may be that the righteous are among those who are speaking here.

10 We grope for the wall like the blind; like people without eyes, we feel our way; we stumble at noonday as if it were dusk, we are in dark places like the dead.

Chapter 58 has already described the way to light in obedience to God, but they appear incapable of getting there on their own. While God’s hand of salvation could reach the people, Yehuda‘s citizens had convinced themselves that they were innocent and didn’t need it. The truth was that they were like the blind; they were in dark places like the dead.

11 We growl, all of us, like bears and moan pitifully like doves; we look for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us. ~ Isaiah 59:1-11 (CJB)

Bears growl out of anger, and doves make a sound like the moans to a suffering person. These metaphors suggest that God’s people were angry and sad about their present state.

In my next post, we will conclude our exploration of Sin, Confession & Redemption ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 59:12-21.

Click here for the PDF version.

Fasting & the Shabbat ~ Yesha’yahu 58:1-14

SPECIAL NOTE: This post is a tad longer than what I have been posting of late. However, the topic was just too short I felt to break-up into a two-post series. You may want to download the PDF version below.

In my last post, we concluded our series on Justice and Judgment ~ Part 4 in Yesha’yahu 57:14-21. In this post, we look at the subject of Fasting & the Shabbat in Yesha’yahu 58:1-14.

The last section of Yesha’yahu’s book puts the final pieces in place for Adonai’s work of salvation and restoration both for Israel and for all of creation. The beginning of that restoration, from Adonai’s standpoint, is the re-establishment of proper worship. Once more, the Prophet is commissioned to shout out, and this time to call the people to repentance. Such will be the case during the time of the end. The first advent of the Lord was heralded by John the Baptist, who called the nation to repentance. Another call to repentance will precede the second advent. It is before us in this chapter. In this, we will have all the great future blessings of the converted remnant of Israel described.

1 Shout out loud! Don’t hold back! Raise your voice like a shofar! Proclaim to My people what rebels they are, to the house of Ya’akov their sins. 2 “Oh yes, they seek Me day after day and [claim to] delight in knowing My ways. As if they were an upright nation that had not abandoned the rulings of their God, they ask Me for just rulings and [claim] to take pleasure in closeness to God,

Adonai instructs Yesha’yahu to shout out the message that His people were sinning even though they came to the Temple and delighted in seeking His ways. In other words, these were people who loved to study the Word, to fellowship together, to worship Adonaiand yet Adonai indicts them. Why? Because, although they loved to learn about Adonai, they weren’t interested in obeying Him. How much is that like so many of us today. When the Ruach begins to convict us, when the Word of Adonai starts to speak to us, we usually only think of it in terms of how it applies to others.

3 [asking,] ‘Why should we fast, if you don’t see? Why mortify ourselves, if You don’t notice?’ “Here is My answer: when you fast, you go about doing whatever you like, while keeping your laborers hard at work. 4 Your fasts lead to quarreling and fighting, to lashing out with violent blows. On a day like today, fasting like yours will not make your voice heard on high. 5 “Is this the sort of fast I want, a day when a person mortifies himself? Is the object to hang your head like a reed and spread sackcloth and ashes under yourself? Is this what you call a fast, a day that pleases Adonai?

Adonai responded to His people’s challenges. He did not respond to their fasting because it was superficial and inauthentic. It led to divisions in the community and exploitative behavior toward underlings, as well as self-absorption. Adonai’s idea of fasting extended far beyond public expressions of mourning. Yeshua said the same thing in Matthew 6 when He said, Now when you fast, don’t go around looking miserable, like the hypocrites. They make sour faces so that people will know they are fasting. Yes! I tell you; they have their reward already! 17 But you, when you fast, wash your face and groom yourself, 18 so that no one will know you are fasting – except your Father, who is with you in secret. Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” ~ Matthew 6:16-18 (CJB)

6 “Here is the sort of fast I want – releasing those unjustly bound, untying the thongs of the yoke, letting the oppressed go free, breaking every yoke,

After condemning the people’s idea of fasting, Adonai defined what He understood to be legitimate and effective fasting. The emphasis is on social justice. Fasting must be connected to behavior that helps the exploited find freedom. The yoke is often an image of exploitation and bondage.

It should be noted that the only fasting that Adonai commanded was regarding Yom Kippur. All the rest are rabbinical mandates or personal acts of piety (see Leviticus 23:28).

7 sharing your food with the hungry, taking the homeless poor into your house, clothing the naked when you see them, fulfilling your duty to your kinsmen!”

What Adonai wanted was religious practice offered from truly humble hearts. Seeking to worship with false motives and with no concern for righteousness is not true worship. So, what does true religion look like? What is proper behavior for the subjects of the King? Believers are to help the oppressed (v.6), give food to the hungry, provide shelter to the homeless, and clothing the naked. As Believers, we are to “care for orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being contaminated by the world” ~ James 1:27 (CJB). Fasting for a day would provide some extra funding to fulfill this need.

8 Then your light will burst forth like the morning; your new skin will quickly grow over your wound; your righteousness will precede you, and Adonai’s glory will follow you. 9 Then you will call, and Adonai will answer; you will cry, and He will say, “Here I am.” If you will remove the yoke from among you, stop false accusation and slander,

The people began by complaining that Adonai did not respond to their fasting. Fasting seems self-denying, but Adonai recognized that the fasting of His people had been manipulative. True self-denial means helping others, and behavior that is other-centered rather than self-directed will be rewarded. Adonai will remove the yoke upon us mentioned in v.3.

10 generously offer food to the hungry and meet the needs of the person in trouble; then your light will rise in the darkness, and your gloom become like noon.

Light and darkness stand for prosperity and need. Faithful obedience and a turning from evil will transform darkness into light.

11 Adonai will always guide you; He will satisfy your needs in the desert, He will renew the strength in your limbs; so that you will be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails.

Abundant, comprehensive blessings of physical health, answered prayer, and continual guidance is promised to those with a heart for the poor and afflicted of society.

12 You will rebuild the ancient ruins, raise foundations from ages past, and be called “Repairer of broken walls, Restorer of streets to live in.”

The prophecy looks forward to the restoration when Adonai’s people will leave their captivity and return to the land, but the land and its cities, especially Yerushalayim. Obedience will lead to prosperity and fertility. The parched land will turn into a watered garden. Obedience and faithful piety will also lead to the strength needed to rebuild the city of Yerushalayim and its defenses. This would be fulfilled when, under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah, the people rebuilt the Temple and walls of Yerushalayim following their Babylonian captivity.

13 “If you hold back your foot on Shabbat from pursuing your own interests on My holy day; if you call Shabbat a delight, Adonai’s holy day, worth honoring; then honor it by not doing your usual things or pursuing your interests or speaking about them.

According to later rabbinic writings, the Shabbat in the postexilic period took on the idea of laying aside the day to worship Adonai. The Shabbat became one of the primary means of showing loyalty to Adonai and His statutes.

 14 If you do, you will find delight in Adonai – I will make you ride on the heights of the land and feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Ya’akov, for the mouth of Adonai has spoken.” ~ Isaiah 58:1-14 (CJB)

In the ancient Near East, cities were typically built on hills because of their natural defensibility, and armies chose hills as strategic points of control. The metaphor to ride on the heights of the land speaks of victory and security.

In my next post, we will begin to explore the issue of Sin, Confession & Redemption ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 59:1-11.

Click here for the PDF version.

Justice and Judgment ~ Part 4 ~ Yesha’yahu 57:3-13

In my last post, we continued to explore the effects of Justice and Judgment ~ Part 3 in Yesha’yahu 57:3-13. In this post, we conclude our series on Justice and Judgment ~ Part 4 in Yesha’yahu 57:14-21.

This passage closes with a statement about Adonai’s good intentions toward the righteous, with a brief statement about the fate of the wicked at the end. Adonai’s people were also assured that his wrath against them would not last forever (v.16).

14 Then He will say, “Keep building! Keep building! Clear the way! Remove everything blocking My people’s path!” 15 For thus says the High, Exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy: “I live in the high and holy place but also with the broken and humble, in order to revive the spirit of the humble and revive the hearts of the broken ones.

Again, Yesha’yahu used the theme of removing obstacles between Adonai and His people to describe the restoration of an intimate relationship. In this instance, the road leads to Adonai, who lives in a high and holy place, so the way is one that goes up (build it up). Adonai may live in a high place, but the broken and humble are with Him. This is a good reminder for all of us to get our “humble” on.

 16 For I will not (emphasis added) fight them forever or always nurse My anger; otherwise, their spirits would faint before me, the creatures I Myself have made. 17 It was because of their flagrant greed that I was angry and struck them; I hid Myself and was angry, but they continued on their own rebellious way. 18 I have seen their ways, and I will heal them; I will lead them and give comfort to them and to those who mourn for them –

Adonai’s punishment of His people’s sins has a limit. He will not destroy them but will punish them in a disciplinary way. He removed His presence from them, but still, they continued to sin. Here Adonai’s people do not break their sin pattern, but Adonai in His grace always promises to heal them.

In other words, Adonai says, “I’ve seen the perversity of man. Yes, I’ve disciplined him. But I will heal, guide, and create peace within him. I will deliver him.” Adonai does not give up on me, and He won’t give up on you ever.

19 I will create the right words: ‘Shalom Shalom to those far off and to those nearby!’ says Adonai; ‘I will heal them!'” 20 But the wicked are like the restless sea – unable to be still, its waters toss up mud and dirt. 21 There is no shalom, says my God, for the wicked. ~ Isaiah 57:14-21 (CJB)

There is a distinction between those to whom Adonai grants peace and those who remain wicked. The wicked will have no peace but will be like the turbulent sea. The sea is commonly a symbol of chaos and wickedness in ancient Near Eastern literature, including the Bible. [1] Nevertheless, anyone who repented and returned to the Lord would enjoy his shalom and healing. However, there is no shalom … for the wicked.

In my next post, we will explore the issue of Fasting in Yesha’yahu 58:1-14.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] HCSB Study Bible.

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Justice and Judgment ~ Part 3 ~ Yesha’yahu 57:3-13

In my last post, we continued to explore the effects of Justice and Judgment ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 56:9-57:2. In this post, we continue with Justice and Judgment ~ Part 3 in Yesha’yahu 57:3-13.

In this passage, Adonai blasts those who practice idolatry and warns them of His coming Judgment. In the last half of the final verse of this passage, He affirms the righteous.

3 “But you, you witches’ children, come here, you spawn of adulterers and whores!

Sorcery and adultery together point to polytheistic fertility rites. In much of the ancient Near East, sorcery was usually forbidden. However, some made a distinction between black (or evil) magic, performed by a sorcerer/sorceress, and white (or benevolent) magic, performed by a legitimate exorcist. Sorcery involved the use of potions, figurines, and curses designed to bring death, disease, or bad luck to the victim. [1]

4 Whom are you making fun of? At whom are you laughing and sticking out your tongue? Aren’t you rebellious children, just a brood of liars? 5 You go into heat among the oak trees, under every spreading tree. You kill the children in the valleys under the cracks in the rocks.

The biblical writers attributed child sacrifice to the Phoenician worshipers of Molekh. “You are not to let any of your children be sacrificed to Molekh, thereby profaning the name of your God; I am Adonai.” ~ Leviticus 18:21 (CJB) Archaeologists have dug up numerous earthen jars in which were skeletons of newborn babies. During these dark days of apostasy in Isra’el, people would place the infant baby in a pot and entomb it in the walls of their house in hopes of pleasing the Molekh.

The thought seems alien to us today. Yet aren’t we, as a society, doing this very thing? Every week, thousands of babies are slaughtered, aborted. Our culture is committing the same sin for which Adonais people are here indicted.

6 Your place is among the smooth stones in the vadi; these, these are what you deserve; you pour out drink offerings to them, you offer grain offerings to them. Should I calmly ignore these things?

The ravines or vadis were the place where child sacrifices took place, the most notorious being the Hinnom Valley on the west side of Yerushalayim. Because of a well-developed ancestor cult that pervaded much of the ancient Near East, the dead were considered to have some power to affect the living. It was believed that if libations were poured out on behalf of the deceased ancestors, their spirits would then offer protection and help to those still living.

7 You set up your bed on a high, lofty mountain; you also went up there to offer sacrifices.

The bed on a high, lofty mountain is a probable reference to Jeremiah 2:20b, where cultic fornication was committed. Its double meaning of “a place to lie down” also brings out the image of death and the grave.

8 Behind door and doorpost, you set up your [lewd] memorial; then, far from Me, you uncovered your bed, climbed up on it and opened it wide, made an agreement with some of them, whose bed you loved when you saw their hand beckoning. 9 You went to the king with scented oil; you added to your perfumes; you sent your envoys far away, even down to Sh’ol.

It isn’t sure what the scented oil and perfumes were used for. The scented oil may have been offerings, while the perfumes were to kindle incense offering. Another suggestion is that they were used to anoint the children that were being offered to Molekh. These envoys are those who practice necromancy, the consultation of the dead on behalf of the living. The envoys probably went to the shrines where the powers of the netherworld (Sh’ol) were worshiped to seek their will by oracular means. Molekh was the god of the netherworld. [2]

10 Though worn out by so much travel, you did not say, ‘All hope is gone’; rather, finding your strength renewed, you did not grow weak. 11 Of whom have you been so afraid, so fearful that you lied? But Me, you don’t remember; you don’t give Me a thought! I have held My peace so long that you no longer fear Me. 12 I will expose your [so-called] ‘righteousness’; and what you have done won’t help you.

Such idolatrous behavior was a result of a lack of fear of Adonai, perhaps encouraged by His silence. He would be silent no more as He exposed His people’s righteousness, which was no righteousness at all.

13 When you cry, will those [idols] you gathered rescue you? The wind will carry them all away; a puff of air will take them off. But whoever takes refuge in Me will possess the land and inherit My holy mountain.” ~ Isaiah 57:3-13 (CJB)

Adonai warned His people that if they worshiped idols, they would have to depend on those idols in times of trouble. But the idols were not substantial so that the wind would blow them away. They will be of no help. On the other hand, Adonai Himself is a refuge in trouble. The passage ends with the promise that the truly righteous will possess Adonai’s holy mountain, Tziyon, in Yerushalayim.

In my next post, we will conclude our exploration of Justice and Judgment ~ Part 4 in Yesha’yahu 57:14-21.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament.

[2] Ibid.

Justice and Judgment ~ Part 2 ~ Yesha’yahu 56:9-57:2

In my last post, we began to examine the issues of Justice and Judgment ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 56:1-8. In this post, we continue to explore the effects of Justice and Judgment ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 56:9-57:2.

9 All you wild animals, come and devour, yes, all you animals in the forest!10 [Isra’el’s] watchmen are, all of them, blind; they don’t know anything. They are all dumb dogs, unable to bark, lying there dreaming, loving to sleep.11 Greedy dogs, never satisfied -such are the shepherds, unable to understand; they all turn to their own way, each one intent on his own gain:

Wow, what an indictment against the watchmen! Talk about not doing their jobs. Dogs in the ancient Near East lived as scavengers. They often roamed in packs on the outskirts of the city and wherever they found refuse. They were often the source of a biting insult. Watchmen were supposed to keep wild animals away from the crops, but these watchmenIsra’el’s leaders – were ineffective, silent (mute dogs), and asleep.

12 “Come, I’ll get some wine, we’ll fill up on good, strong liquor! Tomorrow will be like today; in fact, it will be even better!”

The leaders were totally self-indulgent. They were in it for themselves. This is an indictment, a stern rebuke against the prophets and priests who should have been feeding God’s flock but were instead fleecing them.

1 The righteous person perishes, and nobody gives it a thought. Godly men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous person is taken away from the evil yet to come.

The evil hearts of God’s people were also apparent in another way – in their lack of care for their fellow righteous citizens.

2 Yes, those who live uprightly will have peace as they rest on their couches. ~ Isaiah 56:9-57:2 (CJB)

This verse is obscure, but the sense is that the death of the righteous brings them into a peaceful state. This does not offer hope of heaven but an escape from the turmoil. Even Sh’ol is to be preferred to the wicked situation on earth.

In my next post, we will begin to examine the issues of Justice and Judgment ~ Part 3 in Yesha’yahu 57:3-13.

Click here for the PDF version.

Justice and Judgment ~ Part 1 ~ Yesha’yahu 56:1-8

In my last post, we began a journey to hear A Call to Seek the Lord ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 55:7-13. In this post, we will start to examine the issues of Justice and Judgment ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 56:1-8.

The appeal to observe justice and do what is right was addressed to Isra’el because Adonai’s salvation was near (56:1). There was also good news for every foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord because, in the Millennial Kingdom, righteous non-Jews will also share in the blessings of the Messiah’s rule (56:3). Gentiles, who believed in the God of Isra’el and bound themselves to Him, had a place within His covenant community in the Old Testament dispensation. Here they were assured that they would also share in the kingdom with Isra’el, including sharing in Isra’el’s regathering to enjoy Adonai’s salvation and blessings under Messiah’s righteous rule. Adonai also promises a special blessing and kingdom position to those who maintain their sexual purity (1 Cor 6:9-19).

1 Here is what Adonai says: “Observe justice, do what is right, for my salvation is close to coming, my righteousness to being revealed.”

Salvation is also equivalent to victory or rescue since it envisions release from Babylonian bondage. This verse does not call for obedience that earns salvation. Obedience is a response to the promise of Adonai’s coming deliverance, not a way to earn His favor.

2 Happy is the person who does this, anyone who grasps it firmly, who keeps Shabbat and does not profane it and keeps himself from doing any evil.

Adonai pronounces happy (see Psalm 1) those who are obedient and who avoid evil. The Sabbath commandment (Ex 20:8-11; Dt 5:12-15) is singled out because it was considered the epitome of the Mosaic covenant (Ex 31:13).

3 A foreigner joining Adonai should not say, “Adonai will separate me from His people; “likewise, the eunuch should not say, “I am only a dried-up tree.”

Adonai reminds His people that foreigners who convert to the Lord are not excluded from worship. Yesha’yahu is not at odds with Ezekiel (Ezekiel 44:6-9) or Ezra (Ezra 4:1-3), because they addressed the issue of foreigners who had not converted. Indeed, Exodus 12:43 states concerning the Pesach meal that “no foreigner may eat it,” but Exodus 12:48-49 then makes it clear that if a foreigner converted and was circumcised, then he could partake of the Pesach.

4 For here is what Adonai says: “As for the eunuchs who keep my Shabbats, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant:

Eunuchs were typically excluded from worship, as it is written: A man with crushed or damaged private parts may not enter the assembly of Adonai. ~ Deuteronomy 23:1 (CJB) That law pointed out that gender and sex were divine gifts that should not be intentionally altered. However, this verse describes an obedient eunuch and thus one who had become a eunuch accidentally or who had converted to worship of Adonai after becoming a eunuch. Such devout eunuchs were invited to join in the worship of Adonai.

5 in my house, within my walls, I will give them power and a name greater than sons and daughters; I will give him an everlasting name that will not be cut off.

Eunuchs obviously could not have children and thus lacked progeny who would perpetuate their name. Adonai proclaims that He will provide a memorial for them.

6 “And the foreigners who join themselves to Adonaito serve Him, to love the name of Adonai, and to be His workers, all who keep Shabbat and do not profane it, and hold fast to my covenant, 7 I will bring them to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer; their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for My house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”

Adonai will not turn away anyone who desires to worship Him, even foreigners (that’s most of us, folks) and eunuchs. His house, the Temple, will be a place where everyone can come to pray.

8 Adonai Elohim says, He who gathers Isra’el’s exiles: “There are yet others I will gather, besides those gathered already.”~ Isaiah 56:1-8 (CJB)

The dispersed of Isra’el refers to those Isra’eli, who were removed from the land of Isra’el as a result of foreign invasions (Assyrian and Babylonian) that Adonai sent as punishment against His people.

In my next post, we will begin to examine the issues of Justice and Judgment ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 56:9-57:2.

Click here for the PDF version.

A Call to Seek the Lord ~ Part 2 ~ Yesha’yahu 55:7-13

In my last post, we began a journey to hear A Call to Seek the Lord ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 55:1-6. In this post, we conclude our journey to hear A Call to Seek the Lord ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 55:6-13.

In our previous post, we are told to “seek Adonai while He is available, call on Him while He is still nearby.” In this post, we will explore why.

7Let the wicked person abandon his way and the evil person his thoughts; let him return to Adonai, and He will have mercy on him; let him return to our God, for He will freely forgive.

No matter how wicked you might be, Adonai says if you come to Him, He’ll have mercy upon you and abundantly pardon. Having been confronted about his adultery with Bat-sheva and murder of Uryiah, David said, “I have sinned against Adonai.” Natan said to David, “Adonai also has taken away your sin. You will not die. ~ 2 Samuel 12:13 (CJB). Adonai is so merciful. The moment we confess, we’re forgiven.

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways,” says Adonai. 9 “As high as the sky is above the earth are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Adonai’s invitation in verse 7 was gracious, but there was an urgency to it. If we’re honest, grace does not make sense to us because it does not reflect how people treat one another on earth. But Adonai’s perspective is not our perspective. That’s why we need a divine translator. We need the Ruach HaKodesh to enable us to have a heavenly perspective; we need “the mind of the Messiah” (1 Cor 2:16).

10 For just as rain and snow fall from the sky and do not return there, but water the earth, causing it to bud and produce, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater; 11 so is My Word that goes out from my mouth – it will not return to Me unfulfilled, but it will accomplish what I intend, and cause to succeed what I sent it to do.”

These verses offer rich encouragement regarding the power of Adonai’s Word. Even children understand this illustration about how Adonai cause rain and snow to water the earth. But Adonai says his Word works the same way. It proceeds from his mouth and does not return . . . unfulfilled. It will accomplish what He intends (55:11).

We often make grand plans. We plot and scheme. Sometimes we succeed, but, often we fail. That’s because they lack the power to guarantee their plans. Power is the ability to effect change or produce a desired result, and Adonai’s Word alone has that kind of guaranteed power. The unstoppable power of Adonai’s Word to accomplish all his purposes sets it apart in a class by itself. Adonai’s Word is always purposeful, and His purposes are always achieved. The Bible can be trusted.

12Yes, you will go out with joy; you will be led forth in peace. As you come, the mountains and hills will burst out into song, and all the trees in the countryside will clap their hands. 13Cypresses will grow in place of thorns; myrtles will grow instead of briars. This will bring fame to Adonai as an eternal, imperishable sign. ~ Isaiah 55:1-13 (CJB)

The greatness of Adonai’s salvation and grace will have tremendous effects on the earth in the millennial kingdom. These verses describe briefly the new earth Adonai has promised in His reversal of the curse of Eden. The thorns and briars, which began to plague the world after Adam and Havah (Eve) sinned (see Gen 3:17-18), will be replaced by plants of beauty and usefulness (55:13).

In my next post, we will begin to examine the issues of Justice and Judgment ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 56.

Click here for the PDF version.

A Call to Seek the Lord ~ Part 1 ~ Yesha’yahu 55:1-6

In my last post, we moved forward to learn about The Future Glory of Tziyon ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 54:9-17. In this post, we are on a journey to hear A Call to Seek the Lord in Yesha’yahu 55:1-6.

This chapter consists of an invitation to Adonai’s people to experience His forgiveness. Having laid out every blessing prepared for Adonai’s people in the previous chapter, the only thing left to do was to invite Isra’el to receive the Lord’s healing and salvation from sin.

1 “All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You without money, come, buy, and eat! Yes, come! Buy wine and milk without money – it’s free!

Adonai will not only freely give water, but also the more substantial drinks of milk and wine. These drinks represent spiritual as well as physical nourishment. Water speaks of life, wine of joy, milk of growth. Romans 14:17 tells us the kingdom is inside of us. Therefore, righteousness, peace, and joy are available even now. The water of life, wine of joy, milk of growth are ours for the taking. Being thirsty for His grace is the only prerequisite.

2 Why spend money for what isn’t food, your wages for what doesn’t satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and you will eat well, you will enjoy the fat of the land.

Adonai’s people had not been accepting the free offer of salvation represented by water for the thirsty. They had been spending their resources on things that did not bring soul satisfaction.

 3 Open your ears, and come to me; listen well, and you will live – I will make an everlasting covenant with you, the grace I assured David.

The promises to David are found in 2 Samuel 7. They include the affirmation that David’s dynasty would be established forever (verse 16). During the Bavelim captivity, though, the Davidic line of kings ruling in Yerushalayim came to an end with Zedekiah. We understand the unconditional promise to be fulfilled in Yeshua HaMashiach, a descendant of David.

 4 I have given Him as a witness to the peoples, a leader, and lawgiver for the peoples. 5 You will summon a nation you do not know, and a nation that doesn’t know you will run to you, for the sake of Adonai your God, the Holy One of Isra’el, who will glorify you.”

The promises to David are extended beyond Adonai’s people to include the nations. In fulfillment of the Avrahamic covenant (Genesis 12:3), it envisions a time when the nations will come to Adonai’s people. Isra’el’s greatest days are yet to come in the kingdom age. Nations who come down on her now will run to her then because they’ll sense Adonai is with her.

6Seek Adonai while He is available, call on Him while He is still nearby.

Why? Because in Genesis 6:3, Adonai said His spirit would not live in human beings forever. If you’re not saved, there will be a time when you may not be able to seek Him as you draw your last breath here on earth. There comes a time when all hope of salvation is lost and all that’s left is despair.

In my next post, we will continue to examine A Call to Seek the Lord ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 55:7-13.

A Call to Seek the Lord ~ Part 1