The Servant of the Lord ~ Part 3 ~ Yesha’yahu 42:18-25.

In my last post, we began our exploration of The Servant of the Lord ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 42:10-17. In this post, we conclude our examination The Servant of the Lord ~ Part 3 in Yesha’yahu 42:18-25.

Chapter 42 ends with a prophecy that explains why Adonai’s people will experience judgment before they receive the deliverance described in the previous song. In this passage, Yesha’yahu is no longer talking about Adonai’s servant, Yeshua, but His servant, the nation Isra’el.

18 Listen, you deaf! Look, you blind!— so that you will see! 19 Who is as blind as my servant, or as deaf as the messenger I send? Who is as blind as the one I rewarded, as blind as the servant of Adonai?” 20 You see much but don’t pay attention; you open your ears, but you don’t listen.

Isra’el has been given so much, but she’s not seeing. She’s not hearing. Thus, she is indicted for being a people who are blind and deaf.

21 Adonai was pleased, for His righteousness’ sake, to make the Torah great and glorious.

The people’s inability to see and hear Adonai’s instruction was not a failure on Adonai’s part. He magnified His guidance and made it glorious. Only the most spiritually insensitive could miss it. Adonai had even sent the prophets – men like Yesha’yahu and others to make His instruction clearer, but still, they did not obey.

22 But this is a people pillaged and plundered, all trapped in holes and sequestered in prisons. They are there to be plundered, with no one to rescue them; there to be pillaged, and no one says, “Return them!”

When prisons were far off or not available, holes were often used to hold prisoners for a temporary period. Prisons were primarily for detention of individuals awaiting trial or political prisoners, both in Isra’el and Bavel.

23 Which of you will listen to this? Who will hear and give heed in the times to come? 24 Who gave Ya‘akov to be pillaged, Isra’el to the plunderers? Didn’t Adonai, against whom we have sinned, in whose ways they refused to walk, He whose Torah they did not obey? 25 This is why He poured on him His blazing anger as well as the fury of battle – it wrapped him in flames, yet he learned nothing; it burned him, yet he did not take it to heart. ~ Isaiah 42:18-25 (CJB)

Like Isra’el, what will Adonai have to do to finally get us to see that we need to obey His Word? If you’re at a place where you’re wondering why you’re in bondage or why things aren’t working out for you, could it be that there is a point of disobedience or stubbornness in your life? As He did with Isra’el, Adonai loves you enough to allow the fire of His chastening to come upon you so that you might return to Him.

We need to be listening to Adonai speaking to us through His Word and the Ruach so that we can trust and obey.

In my next post, we learn of Isra’el’s Only Savior in Yesha’yahu 43:1-13.

Click here for the PDF version.

The Helper of Isra’el ~ Part 2 ~ Yesha’yahu 41:16-29

In my last post, we began to explore The Helper of Isra’el ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 41:1-15. In this post, we conclude our exploration of The Helper of Isra’el ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 41:16-29.

In our last post, we stopped at verse 15 which said: “I will make you into a threshing-sledge, new, with sharp, pointed teeth, to thresh the mountains and crush them to dust, to reduce the hills to chaff.” ~ Isaiah 41:15 (CJB)

16 As you fan them, the wind will carry them off, and the whirlwind will scatter them. Then you will rejoice in Adonai; you will glory in the Holy One of Isra’el.

The process of winnowing was usually carried out on hilltops, where the wind carried away the chaff and allowed the grain to fall to the ground. The grain was tossed into the air with wooden shovels or fans.

17 “The poor and needy look for water in vain; their tongues are parched with thirst. I, Adonai, will answer them. I, the God of Isra’el, will not leave them. 18 I will open up rivers on the barren hills and wells down in the broad valleys. I will turn the desert into a lake and dry ground into springs.

The phrase the poor and the needy here refers to Adonai’s down-and-out people whom He has punished. But Adonai will restore them, turning their dry land into a watery paradise.

In our travels through Isra’el in 2000, this is precisely what we see – a reclaiming of the desert. Adonai has undoubtedly given the Isra’el the ability to make a little water go a long way, for areas that were once dry and scorched are now beautiful and blossoming.

19 I will plant the desert with cedars, acacias, myrtles, and olive trees; In the ‘Aravah, I will put cypresses together with elm trees and larches.20 Then the people will see and know, together observe and understand that the hand of Adonai has done this, that the Holy One of Isra’el created it.

When the Zionists began to move back to Isra’el, the land seemed to be either desert or swamp. So they immediately initiated a tree-planting program. They planted eucalyptus in the wetlands, which effectively drained the water. They planted pine trees in the rocky, desert areas, whose roots would break up the rocks and produce soil. In the last 100 years, over two-hundred-fifty million trees have been planted in Isra’el.

21 “Present your case,” says Adonai, “Produce your arguments,” says Ya‘akov’s king.

As in verse 1, Adonai used legal language as He challenged the nations and their idols. Ya‘akov’s king is none other than Adonai Himself.

22 Bring out those idols! Have them foretell the future for us, tell us about past events, so that we can reflect on them and understand their consequences. Or tell us about events yet to come, 23 state what will happen in the future, so that we can know you are gods. At least, do something, either good or bad – anything, to make us awestruck and fearful! 24 You can’t! – because you are less than nothing. Whoever chooses you is an abomination!

The idols were ignorant of the future, demonstrating that they were not gods. Indeed, they were nothing.

25 “I roused someone from the north, and he has come from the rising sun; he will call on my name. He will trample on rulers as if they were mud, like a potter treading clay.”

He is King Cyrus of Persia. He is said to be from the east (come from the rising sun) because his homeland was geographically east of Isra’el. On the other hand, he could, at the same time, be from the north because that was the direction from which he attacked Bavel.

This prophecy is one of the most amazing in all of the Bible as we will learn in Chapter 45.

26 Who said this at the start, so we could know, or foretold it, so we could say, “He’s right”? In fact, no one said it; no one foretold it – the fact is, nobody hears what you say. 27 I am the first to declare it to Tziyon, to send Yerushalayim a messenger with good news.

While the idols were ignorant because they did not exist except as wood or stone, Adonai knew the future. Indeed He knew about this from the beginning. The coming of Cyrus was good news to Yerushalayim because his defeat of Bavel would mean that the exiles could come home.

28 But when I look around, there is no one – not a single one can give counsel, who, when I ask, can give an answer. 29 Look at them all! What they do is nothing! Their idols are so much wind and waste. ~ Isaiah 41:16-29 (CJB)

In other words, idols are capable of producing nothing more than hot air. Even that could only be attained by burning them.

In my next post, we conclude our examination of The Servant of the Lord in Yesha’yahu 42:1-9.

Click here for the PDF version.

The Servant of the Lord ~ Part 1 ~ Yesha’yahu 42:1-9.

In my last post, we concluded our exploration of The Helper of Isra’el ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 41:16-29. In this post, we begin to examine The Servant of the Lord ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 42:1-9.

Several songs in the latter half of Yesha’yahu focus on the Servant of the Lord (see also 50:4-6; 52:13-53:12). The identity of the Servant is much debated, and most modern commentaries give full lists of options. The context of these verses points in the first instance to Isra’el or Y’hudah filling the role of the Servant. After all, 41:8-9 addresses the nation as the Servant. In answer to the objection that this song’s description of the Servant is much too positive to refer to the nation as a whole, it can be conceded that Yesha’yahu spoke of the remnant that would emerge from the purifying fires of judgment. However, even the postexilic survivors did not live up to the hope expressed in these verses. So what or who is the Servant? Let’s see if we can answer that from our text today.

1 “Here is My Servant, whom I support, My chosen one, in whom I take pleasure. I have put My Spirit on Him; He will bring justice to the Goyim.

This is one of the most beautiful prophecies concerning the coming of Messiah. When Yeshua was baptized, the words were thundered from heaven; This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Matthew 3:17). The Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) anointed Him at that time, empowering Him for ministry, to accomplish great things for the glory of Adonai. We receive power when the Ruach comes upon us.

Such anointing in the Tanakh granted the recipient the ability to perform a divinely given task, in this case, to bring justice to the Goyim (that’s most of us folks). Adonai commissioned Isara’el with this task beginning with the promises to Avraham that included their being a blessing to the Goyim (see Gen 12:1-3), but it is Yeshua who will perform His Father’s will fit perfectly in this regard. Yeshua’s work of justice included bringing judgment on sinners.

2 He will not cry or shout; no one will hear His voice in the streets.

This speaks of Yeshua’s humility and gentleness. Rather than being loud and obnoxious, rather than drawing attention to Himself, Yeshua was so ordinary in the eyes of men that Judas had to identify Him to the Roman soldiers (see Matthew 26:48).

3 He will not snap off a broken reed or snuff out a smoldering wick. He will bring forth justice according to truth;

The Servant’s work of bringing justice to the world is also characterized by compassion. Like Adonai who would not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah if just ten righteous people could be found there, so the Servant will not crush anyone, provided there is even a glimmer of hope in them.

4 He will not weaken or be crushed until He has established justice on the earth, and the coastlands wait for His Torah.”

The coastlands refer to the distant nations, so it is a way of identification of all the Goyim. The whole earth will heed Adonai’s instruction, bringing justice to the world.

5 Thus says God, Adonai, who created the heavens and spread them out, who stretched out the earth and all that grows from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk on it:

Adonai is not a part of creation; He is its Creator. He is also not a human being, but the One who created human beings. He gave them breath, starting with Adam.

6 “I, Adonai, called you righteously, I took hold of you by the hand, I shaped you and made you a covenant for the people, to be a light for the Goyim,

Adonai had entered into a covenant with Avraham on behalf not only of future Israel but also of the Goyim. But history shows Isra’el’s miserable failure. Again, Adonai’s purposes were fulfilled in the good news of Yeshua. As the light for the Goyim, Yeshua would indeed be the light for the Goyim.

7 so that you can open blind eyes, free the prisoners from confinement, those living in darkness from the dungeon.

Yeshua came to liberate. He came to deliver humanity from the prison of our sin. Therefore, our sins are forgiven totally for all those who confess and believe that He is the Son of God. In the Word, He has given us all the answers to life practically. We get to know the Creator of the universe personally as we study and meditate on His Word and talk with Him in prayer.

8 I am Adonai; that is My name. I yield My glory to no one else, nor My praise to any idol. 9 See how the former predictions come true, and now new things do I declare – before they sprout I tell you about them.” ~ Isaiah 42:1-9 (CJB)

When Yeshua came on the scene, He was able to do what He taught us we should do. “In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they may see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:16 (CJB) Without exception, every time Yeshua did a miracle, the people glorified Adonai.

It’s so crucial that, as Yeshua begins to increasingly use us in serving Him, we don’t fall into the subtle temptation of touching the glory, of building a name for yourself. It will wipe us out. Perhaps the fastest way we can undo what Adonai desires to do in your life is to start taking credit for it. Give Him all the glory!

In my next post, we continue our examination of The Servant of the Lord ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 42:10-17.

Click here for the PDF version.

The Helper of Isra’el ~ Part 2 ~ Yesha’yahu 41:16-29

In my last post, we began to explore The Helper of Isra’el ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 41:1-15. In this post, we conclude our exploration of The Helper of Isra’el ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 41:16-29.

In our last post, we stopped at verse 15 which said: “I will make you into a threshing-sledge, new, with sharp, pointed teeth, to thresh the mountains and crush them to dust, to reduce the hills to chaff.” ~ Isaiah 41:15 (CJB)

16 As you fan them, the wind will carry them off, and the whirlwind will scatter them. Then you will rejoice in Adonai; you will glory in the Holy One of Isra’el.

The process of winnowing was usually carried out on hilltops, where the wind carried away the chaff and allowed the grain to fall to the ground. The grain was tossed into the air with wooden shovels or fans.

17 “The poor and needy look for water in vain; their tongues are parched with thirst. I, Adonai, will answer them. I, the God of Isra’el, will not leave them. 18 I will open up rivers on the barren hills and wells down in the broad valleys. I will turn the desert into a lake and dry ground into springs.

The phrase the poor and the needy here refers to Adonai’s down-and-out people whom He has punished. But Adonai will restore them, turning their dry land into a watery paradise.

In our travels through Isra’el in 2000, this is precisely what we see – a reclaiming of the desert. Adonai has undoubtedly given the Isra’el the ability to make a little water go a long way, for areas that were once dry and scorched are now beautiful and blossoming.

19 I will plant the desert with cedars, acacias, myrtles, and olive trees; In the ‘Aravah, I will put cypresses together with elm trees and larches.20 Then the people will see and know, together observe and understand that the hand of Adonai has done this, that the Holy One of Isra’el created it.

When the Zionists began to move back to Isra’el, the land seemed to be either desert or swamp. So they immediately initiated a tree-planting program. They planted eucalyptus in the wetlands, which effectively drained the water. They planted pine trees in the rocky, desert areas, whose roots would break up the rocks and produce soil. In the last 100 years, over two-hundred-fifty million trees have been planted in Isra’el.

21 “Present your case,” says Adonai, “Produce your arguments,” says Ya‘akov’s king.

As in verse 1, Adonai used legal language as He challenged the nations and their idols. Ya‘akov’s king is none other than Adonai Himself.

22 Bring out those idols! Have them foretell the future for us, tell us about past events, so that we can reflect on them and understand their consequences. Or tell us about events yet to come, 23 state what will happen in the future, so that we can know you are gods. At least, do something, either good or bad – anything, to make us awestruck and fearful! 24 You can’t! – because you are less than nothing. Whoever chooses you is an abomination!

The idols were ignorant of the future, demonstrating that they were not gods. Indeed, they were nothing.

25 “I roused someone from the north, and he has come from the rising sun; he will call on my name. He will trample on rulers as if they were mud, like a potter treading clay.”

He is King Cyrus of Persia. He is said to be from the east (come from the rising sun) because his homeland was geographically east of Isra’el. On the other hand, he could, at the same time, be from the north because that was the direction from which he attacked Bavel.

This prophecy is one of the most amazing in all of the Bible as we will learn in Chapter 45.

26 Who said this at the start, so we could know, or foretold it, so we could say, “He’s right”? In fact, no one said it; no one foretold it – the fact is, nobody hears what you say. 27 I am the first to declare it to Tziyon, to send Yerushalayim a messenger with good news.

While the idols were ignorant because they did not exist except as wood or stone, Adonai knew the future. Indeed He knew about this from the beginning. The coming of Cyrus was good news to Yerushalayim because his defeat of Bavel would mean that the exiles could come home.

28 But when I look around, there is no one – not a single one can give counsel, who, when I ask, can give an answer. 29 Look at them all! What they do is nothing! Their idols are so much wind and waste. ~ Isaiah 41:16-29 (CJB)

In other words, idols are capable of producing nothing more than hot air. Even that could only be attained by burning them.

In my next post, we begin to explore The Servant of the Lord in Yesha’yahu 42:1-9.

Click here for the PDF version.

The Helper of Isra’el ~ Part 1 ~ Yesha’yahu 41:1-15

In my last post, we completed our exploration of Comfort for Adonai’s People ~ Part 3 in Yesha’yahu 40:27-31. In this post, we begin to explore The Helper of Isra’el ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 41:1-15.

1 “Keep silence before Me, O coastlands, and let the people renew their strength! Let them come near, then let them speak; Let us come near together for judgment.

Here in chapter 41, it is as if we are looking in on a courtroom scene as Adonai calls worshipers of other gods to state their case. The coastlands refer to far-off lands and thus represent all the nations of the world. The prophets often used the language of the courtroom. Here Adonai will try the nations and their idols. The nations were to keep silence as Adonai presented evidence in support of His case.

2 “Who raised up one from the east? Who in righteousness called him to His feet? Who gave the nations before Him, And made Him rule over kings? Who gave them as the dust to His sword, as driven stubble to His bow?

The one from the east who subdues kings is a reference to Cyrus, King of Persia (see Isaiah 45:1), whom Adonai used to defeat Bavel in 539 BCE. This brought the exile of Y’hudah to an end.

3 Who pursued them, and passed safely by the way that he had not gone with his feet? 

The conquests of Cyrus were quick, and he remained safe until he had extended Bavel’s boundaries.

4 Who has performed and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? ‘ I, the LORD, am the first; And with the last I am He.’ “

Though Cyrus was the human agent behind these predicted events, Adonai took credit because Cyrus succeeded because of His sovereign control. In verses 2-4, Jon Courson believes that the reference is not Cyrus but Yeshua as He is the only true Righteous One, the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. [1]

Personally, I don’t have a problem thinking it could easily refer to both at the same time.

5 The coastlands saw it and feared, the ends of the earth were afraid; they drew near and came.

The nations are coming before the throne of Adonai.

6 Everyone helped his neighbor, And said to his brother, “Be of good courage!”

The heathen nations are saying to one another be of good courage as they stand in the presence of Adonai.

7 So the craftsman encouraged the goldsmith; he who smooths with the hammer inspired him who strikes the anvil, saying, “It is ready for the soldering”; then he fastened it with pegs, that it might not totter.

In this verse, the craftsman is the one who prepares the mold and creates the cast figurine. The goldsmith attaches the plating and inlay. Then the hammer is used to smooth out and shine the overlay. The last step is difficult to translate because it is full of technical terms, but it appears to refer to the fitting of the peg into the hole in the wooden base. [2]

8 “But you, Isra’el, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the descendants of Abraham, My friend.

While the nations felt the wrath of Adonai at the hands of His agent Cyrus, Adonai again would make Isra’el His friend. By calling Isra’el the descendant of Avraham, Adonai called to mind the promise to the patriarch that his descendants would be a great nation (Genesis 12:2). Based on this ancient covenantal promise, Adonai acted to restore His people Isra’el.

9 You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest regions, and said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away:

Adonai’s punishment of Y’hudah led to exile in 586 BCE when many of its leading citizens were taken to Bavel and from there scattered throughout the empire. The restoration involved bringing them back from the ends of the earth.

10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Adonai’s statement I am with you is a concise way of describing the covenant relationship between Him and His people. Adonai’s right hand is often associated with His military might, thus His ability to protect His people. The only courage the heathen could draw was from each other. Isra’el’s comfort, on the other hand, came from Adonai Himself.

11 “Behold, all those who were incensed against you shall be ashamed and disgraced; they shall be as nothing, and those who strive with you shall perish. 12 You shall seek them and not find them – those who contended with you. Those who war against you shall be as nothing, as a nonexistent thing.

All those who strive against Isra’el shall perish. In the End Times, countries who wage war against Isra’el are on the wrong team because, according to Matthew 25, treatment of the Jewish nation during the Tribulation will determine what nations move into the Millennium following the Tribulation period.

13 For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’ 14 “Fear not, you worm Jacob, You men of Isra’el! I will help you,” says the LORD And your Redeemer, the Holy One of Isra’el.

Once again, the inability of the nations to contend with Isra’el was because of divine protection and intimacy (I…will hold your right hand). Isra’el did not have the strength or ability to protect itself, but Adonai would sustain them.

15 “Behold, I will make you into a new threshing sledge with sharp teeth; You shall thresh the mountains and beat them small, And make the hills like chaff. ~ Isaiah 41:1-15 (NKJV)

The threshing sledge was a heavy wooden sledge with stone or iron teeth. It was used to separate the grain from the chaff before the winnowing process. The metaphor emphasizes how thoroughly and violently Isra’el would defeat the nations.

In my next post, we conclude our examination of The Helper of Isra’el ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 41:16-29.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Jon Courson’s Application Commentary Old Testament Volume 2.

[2] The IVP Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament.

The Joy of the Redeemed ~ Yesha’hayu 35:1-10

In my last post, we explored A Prophecy Against the Nations in Yesha’yahu 34:1-17. In this post, we learn of The Joy of the Redeemed in Yesha’hayu 35:1-10.

Chapter 35 is a mirror image of chapter 34, where Adonai announced that He would turn the nations into a wilderness. In chapter 35, He proclaimed that He would transform the people of Adonai from a wilderness into a garden. The principle of both chapters is that Adonai’s people should trust Him, not the nations.

1 The desert and the dry land will be glad; the ‘Aravah will rejoice and blossom like the lily.

In Romans 8, Sha’ul tells us that all creation is groaning, waiting for the day of redemption. In other words, even the earth realizes it’s in a fallen state. But when Yeshua comes back, everything will be made right once again.

Recall that the ‘Aravah is the desert area south of the Dead Sea. Scientists tell us that the deserts on our planet are expanding at an alarming rate. Ten thousand square miles of desert are being added in North Africa alone each year. But when the kingdom comes, the desert shall suddenly rejoice and blossom like a lily.

How can this be? It is suggested by some scientists that there will be another shift of the axis. If the earth is made straight again, much of the polar ice caps will melt, adding incredible amounts of water and causing evaporation and the reemergence of a water canopy surrounding the planet. Fossil evidence indicates that the earth at one time was uniformly temperate. Scientists suggest that this could happen again. [1] This is an interesting theory, but I don’t think it is connected to “global warming” per se.

2 It will burst into flower, will rejoice with joy and singing, will be given the glory of the L’vanon, the splendor of Karmel and the Sharon. They will see the glory of Adonai, the splendor of our God.

With the elimination of Edom, regions north of that land are freed from oppression and are restored to fertility and prosperity. L’vanon, Karmel, and Sharon were regions especially lush in vegetation.

3 Strengthen your drooping arms, and steady your tottering knees. 4 Say to the fainthearted, “Be strong and unafraid! Here is your God; He will come with a vengeance; with God’s retribution He will come and save you.”

Adonai will save His people from the godless nations that oppress them. Adonai’s retribution refers to the punishment due to the wicked and the reward due to the righteous.

How are we to strengthen people who feel weak or fearful? We are to tell them Yeshua is coming back. The way to enhance people – whether yourself or others – is to say, “Fear not. Be strong. Yeshua will come and save you.”

5 Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped; 6 then the lame man will leap like a deer, and the mute person’s tongue will sing. For in the desert, springs will burst forth, streams of water in the ‘Aravah; 7 the sandy mirage will become a pool, the thirsty ground springs of water. The haunts where jackals lie down will become a marsh filled with reeds and papyrus.

In the Kingdom, the healing ministry that Yeshua began on earth will be gloriously completed. Elsewhere in Yesha’yahu, these physical disabilities (blind, deaf, and lame) are metaphors for spiritual shortcomings (29:18; 42:18-19; 43:8). They have been physically dead to godliness, but in the future, they will come alive. Not only will the lame walk, but they will leap like a deer. Not only will the mute speak, but they will sing for joy. A similar transformation is described with the language of nature. The parched ground will flow with water.

8 A highway will be there, a way, called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not pass over it, but it will be for those whom He guides – fools will not stray along it.

In the Kingdom Age, the Way of Holiness shall be established. Everyone will walk together in love and righteousness as the Prince of Peace reigns. Even the most foolish of us will not miss the cutoff or take a wrong turn on this glorious highway of wholeness and rightness.

9 No lion or other beast of prey will be there, traveling on it. They will not be found there, but the redeemed will go there.

HaSatan will be bound at this time. Thus, we will not even hear a growl from the roaring lion of 1 Kefa 5:8.

10 Those ransomed by Adonai will return and come with singing to Tziyon, on their heads will be everlasting joy. They will acquire gladness and joy, while sorrow and sighing will flee. ~ Isaiah 35:1-10 (CJB)

The road described in verse 8 will be safe, and it will lead to Tziyon, where Adonai makes His presence known to His people.

Somewhere we got the mistaken idea that holiness is joyless. Here, however, we see that, as we cruise down the Way of Holiness, everlasting joy will replace heaviness and gladness will replace sadness.

In my next post, we begin to learn that The King of Ashur Threatens Yerushalayim in Yesha’yahu 36.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Jon Courson’s Application Commentary Old Testament Volume 2.

A Prophecy Against the Nations ~ Yesha’yahu 34:1-17

In my last post, we wrapped up A Woe Against Those on Whom the King Will Take Vengeance ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 33:14-24. In this post, we explore A Prophecy Against the Nations in Yesha’yahu 34:1-17.

In Yesha’yahu 34, we see a picture of the Great Tribulation, specifically the battle of Har-Megiddo.

1 Come close, you nations, and listen! Pay close attention, you peoples! Let the earth hear, and everything in it; the world, with all it produces.

The first thing I noticed in this verse was the pluralization of the nation. Adonai is not just the God of Israel. He is the Adonai of the whole world, so He calls on all the nations to hear Him when He speaks. That includes all of us.

2 For Adonai is angry at every nation, furious with all their armies; He has completely destroyed them, handed them over to slaughter. (emphasis added.) 3 Their slain will be thrown out; the stench will rise from their corpses; the mountains will flow with their blood.

Revelation 14:20 tells us that, at the battle of Har-Megiddo, the blood will flow as high as a horse’s bridle. Jeremiah 30 calls this the time of Ya’akov’s trouble, for, in the Tribulation, the nation of Isra’el and all the earth will be shaken to its core in preparation for the coming of the King.

4 The whole host of heaven will decompose, the heavens themselves be rolled up like a scroll; all their array will wither away like a withering grape-leaf that falls from a vine or a withered fig from a fig tree.

Adonai’s warring activity has cosmic implications. The ancient nations thought of the stars as representing their gods. This image in Yesha’yahu of the whole panorama of the sky being rolled up like a parchment scroll is unique in the Hebrew Bible. In Revelation 6:14 we read: “The sky receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved from its place.”

5 ‘For my sword has drunk its fill in heaven; now it descends on Edom to judge them, the people I have doomed to destruction.’

Since verses 1-4 are concerned with Adonai’s punishment of the nations, it may be that the description of Edom as a sacrificial victim is simply an example of what will happen to them all. Indeed Edom serves in many cases as Israel’s prototype “enemy.”

6 There is a sword that belongs to Adonai. It is filled with blood, gorged with fat, filled with the blood of lambs and goats, gorged with the fat of the kidneys of rams. For Adonai has a sacrifice in Botzrah, a great slaughter in the land of Edom. 7 The wild oxen will fall with them, the young bulls with the strong, mature ones. Their land will be drunk with blood, and their dust made greasy with fat.

Botzrah is the capital of ancient Edom, present-day Saudi Arabia. Edom is the area where Esau settled. The language of sacrifice is explicit in these verses.

8 For Adonai has a day of vengeance, a year of requital for fighting with Tziyon.

Edom had a reputation for taking advantage of Isra’el whenever Isra’el was weak.

9 Its streams will be changed to tar, its dust to sulfur, its land burning tar 10 that will not be quenched night or day; its smoke will rise forever. In all generations, it will lie waste; no one will pass through it ever again.

Although often mentioned as a sealant material for boats, boiling tar appears in Old Babylonian texts as a form of punishment. Coupled with the foul smell of burning sulfur, both elements being available in the region of the Dead Sea, they could easily be associated with Adonai’s wrath. This punishment is similar to that He had brought against Sodom and Gomorrah.

For years, Bible scholars wondered how an area could burn forever. Now we know – for if a bomb or some other device ignited the vast oil reserves of Saudi Arabia, they would burn forever. Whether a bomb ignites them or they are ignited supernaturally, they will indeed burn. [1]

11 Horned owl and hawk will possess it, screech owl and raven will live there; he will stretch over it the measuring line of confusion and the plumbline of the empty void.

The symbol for utter destruction here is that birds best known as inhabiting and scavenging desolate places have settled in ruins.

12 Of its nobles, none will be called to be king, and all its princes will be nothing.

Edom’s kingship was ancient, predating that of Isra’el, but Adonai will bring that institution to an end since He is bringing the nation itself to a close.

13 Thorns will overgrow its palaces, nettles, and thistles its fortresses; it will become a lair for jackals, an enclosure for ostriches. 14 Wildcats and hyenas will meet there, and billy-goats call to each other; Lilit [the night monster] will lurk there and find herself a place to rest. 15 There the hoot owl will nest, lay her eggs, hatch and gather her young in its shade. There the vultures will assemble, every one with its mate.

The prophecy is that of a city becoming a wilderness. Not only will the public buildings of the nation be overgrown out of neglect, but wild animals – a number of which were considered unclean – will make their homes among the ruins.

16 Consult the book of Adonai and read it: not one of these will be missing, none will be lacking a mate. For by His own mouth He gave the order, and by His Spirit, He brought them together. 17 It is He who cast the lot for them, His hand measured out their shares. They will possess it forever, and live there through all generations.” ~ Isaiah 34:1-17 (CJB)

The meaning of the book of Adonai is unknown. It may be a reference to a heavenly scroll, but if so, it is hard to know how the hearer could refer to this document. The appeal to a scroll could be a rhetorical device to emphasize the certainty of Edom’s destruction and its transformation into a haunt for wild animals.

In my next post, we explore The Joy of the Redeemed in Yesha’hayu 35:1-10.

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[1] Jon Courson’s Application Commentary Old Testament Volume 2.

The Lord’s Judgment of the Whole Earth ~ Part 6 ~ Yesha’yahu 27:1-13

In my last post, we continued exploring The Lord’s Judgment of the Whole Earth ~ Part 5 in Yesha’yahu 26:11-21. In this post, we conclude our series on The Lord’s Judgment of the Whole Earth ~ Part 6 in Yesha’yahu 27:1-13.

1 On that day, Adonai, with his great, strong, relentless sword, will punish Livyatan the fleeing serpent, the twisting serpent Livyatan; he will slay the sea monster.

Several other passages in the Tanakh mention Livyatan, but most of them, like Psalm 74:14 and Job 41:1-34, speak in terms of God’s creative act that established control over watery chaos (personified by the sea serpent). Livyatan was a sea monster, representing chaos and evil in this verse. According to Revelation 13:1, this is a reference to the antichrist.

In verses 2-6, pleasant vineyard is a metaphor for God’s people. The poem has many contrasts with the vineyard song of 5:1-7. There the vineyard image is used to emphasize God’s judgment on sin; here, the vineyard image describes the restoration of His people after judgment.

2 On that day, a pleasant vineyard – sing about it! 3 “I, Adonai, guard it. Moment by moment, I water it. So that no harm will come to it, I guard it night and day. 4 I have no anger in me. If it gives me briars and thorns, then, as in war, I will trample it down and burn it up at once; 5 unless it takes hold of my strength, in order to make peace with me, yes, to make peace with me.”

In these verses, the briars and thorns seem to represent rebellion against God – the type of behavior that led to a judgment in the first place. The briars and thorns have two possible courses of action: they can experience the devastating punishment of God, or they can make peace with Him.

Many of us have the mistaken idea that God is really, really angry. All of the anger He rightly feels toward humanity, however, was poured out on Yeshua at Calvary. If we will just embrace and receive that, we can be at peace with God.

6 The time is coming when Ya‘akov will take root; Isra’el will bud and flower, and fill the whole world with a harvest.

Yesha’yahu saw a prosperous future for God’s people, one that would bring prosperity to the whole world (Genesis 12:1-3). We’re seeing this prophecy fulfilled even today, for Isra’el is the world’s third largest exporter of fruit and the fourth largest exporter of flowers. [1]

7 [Adonai] will not strike Isra’el, as He did others who struck Isra’el; He will not kill them, as He did the others.

Adonai indeed will judge all His people, but He will not annihilate them as He will do with those whom He uses to punish them.

8 Your controversy with her is fully resolved by sending her [into exile]. He removes her with a rough gust of wind on a day when it’s blowing from the east.

Rather than annihilating His people, God will scatter them. The image of a rough gust of wind evokes the picture of chaff being blown away.

Verses 9-12 speak of the future restoration of Isra’el – when God gathers His people from their dispersion throughout the world.

9 So the iniquity of Ya‘akov is atoned for by this, and removing his sin produces this result: He chops up all the altar stones like chalk – sacred poles and sun-pillars stand no more.

Limestone is crushed to produce stones like chalk that can be used for mortar, as a liming agent in cesspools and to seal stone walls with a type of “whitewash.”Sacred poles refer to Asherah poles.

10 For the fortified city is alone, abandoned and deserted, like the desert. Calves graze and lie down there, stripping its branches bare. 11 When its harvest dries up, it is broken off; women come and set it on fire. For this is a people without understanding. Therefore, he who made them will not pity them, he who formed them will show them no mercy.

The fortified city, like the city of chaos and the lofty city, represents arrogant human evil. In the aftermath of God’s judgment, this city will become grazing land.

12 On that day, Adonai will beat out the grain between the Euphrates River and the Vadi of Egypt; and you will be gathered, one by one, people of Isra’el!

The Euphrates River and the Vadi of Egypt were the far northern and southern boundaries of the promised land. It appears that modern Isra’el has more territory to settle. The image of threshing grain is an image of refining judgment since the process separated the wheat from the chaff. But the aftermath of the punishment will bring a regathering of God’s dispersed people.

13 On that day a great shofar will sound. Those lost in the land of Ashur will come, also those scattered through the land of Egypt; and they will worship Adonai on the holy mountain in Yerushalayim. ~ Isaiah 27:1-13 (CJB)

Perhaps because of their use for signaling in battle, the blast of a great shofar became a familiar image used in eschatological and apocalyptic literature as a signal for the end time (see Zechariah 9:14 and Revelation 8:6-12). Here it awakens the exiles to the moment when they will return from Ashurim exile and from the places in Egypt where they have fled for refuge.

In my next post, we will begin another series of Woes in Yesha’hayu 28.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Jon Courson’s Application Commentary Old Testament Volume 2.

The Lord’s Judgment of the Whole Earth ~ Part 2 ~ Yesha’yahu 24:13-23

In my last post, we began to learn about The Lord’s Judgment of the Whole Earth ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 24:1-12. In this post, we continue exploring The Lord’s Judgment of the Whole Earth ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 24:13-23.

13 Around the earth, among the peoples, it will be as when beating an olive tree, as when gleaning the grapes at the end of the harvest.

A harvested olive tree or a grapevine after the harvest had only a few olives or grapes. So, the cities of the nations will have just a few people left when God’s judgment falls.

14 They lift their voices, singing for joy, shouting from the west to honor Adonai. 15 So in the east, honor Adonai; in the coastlands, honor the name of Adonai, the God of Isra’el. 16 From the farthest part of the earth, we have heard them sing, “Glory to the Righteous One!” But, I say, I’m wasting away, I am wasting away! Woe to me! Traitors betray! Oh, how the traitors betray and betray!

As seen throughout Scripture, even in judgment, God shows mercy, for here, a remnant is saved who will praise Him both for His mercy and His majesty. The remnant celebrated the downfall of the wicked described in the previous verses.

Yesha’yahu (the first-person speaker in verse 16b) does not join the chorus of celebration. Perhaps he was horrified by the destruction or, more likely, by the depth of the transgression of the nations.

17 Terror, pit, and trap are upon you, you who are living on earth. 18 He who flees at the sound of terror will fall into the pit. He who climbs up out of the pit will be caught in the trap. For the windows above have been opened, and the earth’s foundations shake.

The words terror, pit, and trap play on the similarity of sound of three words in Hebrew. They stand for the judgment that God has prepared for the sinful inhabitants of the earth. The open windows of the sky imply rain and suggest a devastating flood. The shaking foundations would be experienced as earthquakes.

So all-encompassing is this judgment that there is nowhere to hide.

19 The earth cracks and breaks open, the earth crumbles to pieces, the earth trembles and totters. 20 The earth staggers to and fro like a drunk, sways back and forth like a watchman’s shelter; its transgression weighs heavy upon it; it will fall and not rise again.

As you may have observed, a drunk cannot think or stand straight. This judgment is connected to rebellion against God by virtually all people on earth. Revelation 8 says even mountains will be cast into the sea.

21 When that day comes, Adonai will punish the armies of the high heaven on high and the kings of the earth here on earth.

The phrase when that day comes points to a future but unspecified time. God’s judgment is extensive. It covers not only the earth but also the host of heaven, a phrase that either indicates the stars or fallen angels.

22 They will be assembled like prisoners in a dungeon and shut up in prison to be punished many years.

Verses 21 and 22 refer to the rulers in high places – demonic spirits. As the Tribulation comes to an end, HaSatan and his demons will be cast into a pit for a thousand years. Then, following the thousand-year period of peace and prosperity when Yeshua reigns from Yerushalayim, God will loose HaSatan and his demons — giving them one last chance to deceive the people.

23 Then the moon will be confused and the sun ashamed, for Adonai-Tzva’ot will rule on Mount Tziyon and in Yerushalayim, with his glory manifest to the rulers of his people. ~ Isaiah 24:13-23 (CJB)

Even the moon and sun will pale in comparison with the brilliant light emanating from God as He exercises His sovereign rule from the temple.

In my next post, we will continue to explore The Lord’s Judgment of the Whole Earth ~ Pat 3 in Yesha’yahu 25:1-12.

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The Coming Day of the Lord ~ Part 2 ~ Yesha’yahu 2:9-17

In my last post, we began to look at The Coming Day of the Lord in Yesha’yahu 2:6-22. I decided to switch gears for my blog for this series as I will be taking more of a verse-by-verse format. We only covered verses 6-8. In this post, we continue to look at The Coming Day of the Lord beginning in Yesha’yahu 2:9-17.

Why will God judge His people? We learned in Part 1 it was (and still is) because of their idolatry, covetousness, pride, and exploiting of the poor. Instead of holding to the truth of God’s Word, they were full of sorcerers, not unlike many “religious seekers” today. The growth of Eastern religions in the modern Western world is a phenomenon that is both frightening and challenging. Even nonreligious people are practicing Eastern forms of meditation and relaxation, following techniques that are being taught in university classes and business seminars.

9 A person bows down, a man lowers himself — don’t forgive them! 10 Come into the rock, hide in the dust to escape the terror of Adonai and the glory of his majesty.

In the ancient world, a bright or flaming aura surrounding deity is the norm in depicting the glory of his majesty. It is especially evident in the divine warrior motif where the deity unveils his glory as he fights for his people.

11 The proud looks of man will be humiliated; the arrogance of men will be bowed down; and when that day comes, Adonai alone will be exalted. 12 Yes, Adonai-Tzva’ot has a day in store for all who are proud and lofty, for all who are lifted high to be humiliated; 13 for all cedars of the L’vanon that are high and lifted up, for all the oaks of the Bashan; 14 for all the high mountains, for all the hills that are lifted up; 15 for every high tower, for every fortified wall; 16 for every “Tarshish” ship, for every luxurious vessel. 17 The pride of man will be bowed down, the arrogance of men will be humiliated, and when that day comes, Adonai alone will be exalted.

With the words proud looks of man will be humiliated, Yesha’yahu expressed one of the major themes of his book. Through judgment, God cuts down the sinful pretensions of His people.

The prophets of the Tanakh often spoke of a Coming Day of the Lord (Joel 1:15; Amos 2:1,11,31; 5:18,20; Zephaniah 1:7,14; Zechariah 14:1). This day is the judgment of sinners, which means the redemption of God’s people. However, God’s people in this verse were the object of His anger since they were rebelling against Him. While the Day of the Lord ultimately points to the final judgment, God’s temporal punishments of His people are often understood to be anticipatory fulfillment of the final judgment. L’vanon and Bashan were well known for their fertile lands and their impressive trees. Thus, they are representative of arrogance built on abundance. God’s judgment is against all kinds of pride.

The cedars of the L’vanon and the oaks of the Bashan were valued for their size, beauty, strength, and durability. They would be used in the building projects (such as gates and palaces) that were the sources of pride for nations and in which they would put their trust. The cedars of L’vanon and oaks of Bashan speak of men that are proud of their abilities. Who or what do we put our trust in? For my wife and I, it is the Lord and ADT Security.

The high mountains could speak of government. Walls and towers speak of military might. Walls of this period were solid and could be made of mud brick, fieldstone or ashlar [large square-cut] stone. While towers and walls were features of fortified cities, there were also many garrison fortresses built along trade routes and borders. In Isra’el both the fortresses and towers were rectangular. Since city walls have not been preserved to their original height, it is difficult to say how high they were. A width of fifteen to twenty feet was common and judging from their massive foundations and the length of ladders used for scaling the walls, a height of thirty to forty feet would not be unusual.

Trade using seagoing vessels was already taking place in the first half of the third millennium BCE. Excavations of a sunken merchant ship (off the coast of Turkey) from the period gives a good idea of the variety of items being shipped. Trading ships of the first millennium were single-masted with a crow’s nest and could feature either one or two banks of oars. A typical length would be about fifty feet, though larger ones are known. [1]

It is not idols, but only Yeshua who will ultimately be exalted. When He comes back to this planet, before He rules and reigns in the Temple, there will be a time of chastening and judging. As a result, people will take all that they once worshiped to the dump to be left to the rats because, at last, all idols will be seen to be meaningless.

In my next post, I will finish with this topic for now as we explore The Coming Day of the Lord ~ Part 3 in Yesha’yahu 2:18-22.

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[1] The IVP Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament