Adonai Commands Tziyon to Wake Up ~ Yesha’yahu 52:1-12

In my last post, we completed learning about The Cup of Adonai’s Wrath in Yesha’yahu 51:17-23. In this post, we learn about Adonai Commands Tziyon to Wake Up in Yesha’yahu 52:1-12.

1 Awake! Awake, Tziyon! Clothe yourself with your strength! Dress in your splendid garments, Yerushalayim, the holy city! For the uncircumcised and the unclean will enter you no more.

For the third time in this section, the call to awake occurs (see Yesha’yahu 51:9,17). This time it is addressed toTziyon, again personified as a woman. The description is of a renewed, refreshed, and restored Yerushalayim, no longer contaminated by the uncircumcised and the unclean.

2 Shake off the dust! Arise! Be enthroned, Yerushalayim! Loosen the chains on your neck, captive daughter of Tziyon!

In an obvious allusion to the exile, Tziyon is pictured as freed from bondage. She will rise from the dust to take her seat, perhaps implying a transition from dusty captive to the dignified queen.

If you go to Yerushalayim today, you can sense the riches of the area, but you can also see the sin and corruption. It won’t always be that way, however, for when Yeshua comes back to rule and reign in Yerushalayim, it will be a holy city, indeed.

3 For thus says Adonai: “You were sold for nothing, and you will be redeemed without money.”

Adonai was so anxious to get rid of sinful Tziyon that He sold her for nothing. He sold her for nothing; He can now redeem her for nothing.

4 For thus says Adonai Elohim: “Long ago My people went down to Egypt to live there as aliens, and Ashur oppressed them for no reason.

The prophecy speaks from a prophetic perspective as if Yesha’yahu were living at the time of the Bavlim captivity. From that time in the future, he looks back on two previous traumatic periods in Israeli history – the Exodus from Egypt in the second millennium BCE and the Ashurim invasion of the northern kingdom during Yesha’yahu’s lifetime (722 BCE). The Bavlim captivity dates to 586-539 BCE.

5 So now, what should I do here,” asks Adonai, “since My people were carried off for nothing? Their oppressors are howling,” says Adonai, “and My name is always being insulted, daily. 6 Therefore My people will know My name; therefore, on that day they will know that I, the one speaking – here I Am!”

Adonai’s people come to know Him through this process of punishment and restoration.

In Bavel, Adonai’s people howled. In Egypt, they cried out (see Exodus 2:23). Adonai heard it all. Just as He sent Moshe to deliver His people from Egypt, He’ll send Koresh to liberate them from Bavel. However, even with their history of miraculous deliverance, polls show that less than 10% of people in Isra’el today believe in Adonai. On that day, however, when Yeshua comes back, they will know Adonai’s true name and His character.

7 How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, proclaiming shalom, bringing good news of good things, announcing salvation and saying to Tziyon, “Your God is King!”

As the song title proclaims: OUR GOD REIGNS! In the ancient world, the news was carried by a herald. In this verse, the herald announces the end of hostilities and the fact that Adonai reigns as King over His people. A variation of this verse occurs in Nahum 1:15.

8 Listen! Your watchmen are raising their voices, shouting for joy together, for they will see, before their own eyes, Adonai returning to Tziyon.

Watchmen were posted on city walls to keep an eye out for attack, or in this case to be the first to witness the return of Adonai to His Holy City, Yerushalayim.

9 Break out into joy! Sing together; you ruins of Yerushalayim! For Adonai has comforted His people, He has redeemed Yerushalayim! 10 Adonai has bared His holy arm in the sight of every nation, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.

The salvation referred to here is the conspicuous restoration of Yerushalayim after it had been reduced to ruins by the Bavlim.

11 Leave! Leave! Get out of there! Don’t touch anything, unclean! Get out from inside it, and be clean, you who carry Adonai’s temple equipment.

Adonai’s temple equipment was transported to Bavel during the conquests of Yerushalayim. They were returned to Yerushalayim during the Persian period.

The priests (who are required to carry the vessels of Adonai) are now encouraged to leave, presumably from Bavlim captivity.

12 You need not leave in haste; you do not have to flee; for Adonai will go ahead of you, and the God of Isra’el will also be behind you. ~ Isaiah 52:1-12 (CJB)

When Adonai delivers His people, they never have to run for their lives. They only must move at His pace because He goes before and behind.

In my next post, we will begin to examine one of my favorite – if not my most favorite – passages in the Tanakh: The Suffering Servant in Yesha’yahu 52:13-53:12. I’m pretty sure this will be a multi-part series.

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The Cup of Adonai’s Wrath ~ Yesha’yahu 51:17-23

In my last post, we continued to learn about Everlasting Salvation for Tziyon ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 51:9-19. In this post, we learn about The Cup of Adonai’s Wrath in Yesha’yahu 51:17-23.

In this passage, Yesha’yahu called on Adonai’s people to wake up. They were slumbering under the influence of drinking Adonai’s cup of wrath.

17 Awake! Awake! Stand up, Yerushalayim! At Adonai’s hand, you drank the cup of His fury; you have drained to the dregs the goblet of drunkenness.

Isra’el used these words in a prayer to Adonai. Isra’el’s problems were not the result of Adonai’s slowness to act; instead, the people were slow to believe Adonai’s promises. The cup of His fury implies that He will appropriately measure out His judgment; those who fall under His judgment must figuratively drink from his wrath.

18 There is no one to guide her among all the sons she has borne. Not one of all the children she raised is taking her by the hand.

In the ancient Near East, it was the duty of the children to care for a drunk parent. Noach’s son Ham acted in a reprehensible manner when his father was drunk (see Genesis 9:18-29). Here Yerushalayim’s people did not take hold of her hand when she was drunk after drinking the cup of Adonai’s fury.

19 These two disasters have overcome you – yet who will grieve with you? – Plunder and destruction, famine and sword; by whom can I comfort you? 20 Your children lie helpless at every street corner, like an antelope trapped in a net; they are full of Adonai’s fury, the rebuke of your God.

A sad commentary on Yerushalayim’s destruction and desolation are provided in Lamentations 1:13, 22; 2:11-12, 19.

In verse 9, the people had said, “Awake, Lord. Help us.” Here, Adonai tells the people to wake up themselves and look around at the desolation and destruction caused by His chastening.

As hard as the chastening hand of Adonai fell upon His people, it was nothing in comparison to the way He dealt with her enemies. They were removed off the face of the earth entirely and appear only as a footnote on the pages of history. Therefore, next time you think you’ve got it tough because you’re being chastened by Adonai, you would do well to consider those people who are not part of His family. They’ll be lost eternally.

Adonai’s chastening is a sign of His love, of His commitment to the development of His people – be it in Yesha’yahu’s day or ours. If you’re continuing in sin and aren’t chastened, you’re not a son or daughter at all.

21 Therefore, please hear this in your affliction, you who are drunk, but not with wine; 22 this is what your Lord Adonai says, your God, who defends His people: “Here, I have removed from your hand the cup of drunkenness, the goblet of my fury. You will never drink it again.

After urging His people to learn from their situation, Adonai encourages them by giving them a promise for their nation. Adonai would defend His people as He did when Ashur besieged Yerushalayim (see Isaiah 38:6).

23 I will put it in the hands of your tormentors, who said to you, ‘Bend down, so we can trample you,’ and you flattened your back on the ground like a street for them to walk on.” ~ Isaiah 51:17-23 (CJB)

The tormentors were the Bavlim who brought about destruction, war, and famine. Once Yerushalayim has experienced the full force of Adonai’s judgment, once they have drunk of the goblet of His fury, He will take it away and give it to their tormentors.

In my next post, we learn that Adonai Commands Tziyon to Wake Up in Yesha’yahu 52:1-12.

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Everlasting Salvation for Tziyon ~ Part 1 ~ Yesha’yahu 51:1-8

In my last post, we learned about Isra’el’s Sin and the Servant’s Obedience in Yesha’yahu 50:1-11. In this post, we learn about Everlasting Salvation for Tziyon in Yesha’yahu 51:1-8.

1 “Listen to me, you pursuers of justice, you who seek Adonai: consider the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were dug – 2 consider Avraham your father and Sarah, who gave birth to you; in that I called him when he was only one person, then blessed him and made him many.

Yesha’yahu called to the righteous among Adonai’s people and reminded them of their heritage. Avraham was the rock from which the people of Adonai were cut and Sarah the quarry from which they were dug. From the one, man Avraham came many descendants according to the promise of the Avrahamic covenant (Genesis 12:1-3).

Here, Adonai is saying, “Look back and remember where you came from, the pit from which you were rescued.” If you think it’s hard to be a Believer, pause and remember what it was like before you invited Yeshua into your heart – the meaninglessness, the emptiness, the frustration and insecurity you felt before Yeshua took up residence.

3 For Adonai will comfort Tziyon, will comfort all her ruined places, will make her desert like ‘Eden, her ‘Aravah like the garden of Adonai. Joy and gladness will be there, thanksgiving and the sound of music.

On the foundation of the ancient promises to Avraham, Adonai will transform Tziyon’s suffering and devastation to joy and prosperity.

4 “Pay attention to me, my people! My nation listen to me! For Torah will go out from Me; I will calm them with My justice as a light for the peoples. 5 My righteousness is at hand; My salvation goes out. My arms will judge the peoples. The coastlands are putting their hope in Me, trusting in My arm.

According to the Avrahamic promise, his descendants were to be a blessing to the nations. The coastlands represent the distant nations. There is an implication that all the countries of the world will put their hope in Adonai.

6 “Raise your eyes toward the skies, look at the earth below. The skies will vanish like smoke; the earth will wear out like clothing. Those living on it will die like flies, but My salvation will be forever, and My justice will never end.

This is not an apocalyptic verse concerning the end of the earth. From a human perspective, the skies and the earth look permanent. People die, but the skies and earth endure. But Adonai’s salvation and righteousness make even the heavens and the earth appear temporary.

7 “Listen to me, you who know justice, you people who have My Torah in your heart: don’t be afraid of people’s taunts, don’t be upset by their insults. 8 For the moth will eat them up like clothing, the worm will eat them like wool; but My justice will be forever, and My salvation for all generations.”

If the skies and the earth are temporary, so are even shorter-lived human beings. Why then should anyone fear another? The only One who is the proper recipient of our fear is Adonai Himself. Those who revile the Word of Adonai, those who ignore the commands of Adonai shall be eaten up.

In my next post, we continue to learn about Everlasting Salvation for Tziyon ~ Par 2 in Yesha’yahu 51:9-16.

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Isra’el’s Sin and the Servant’s Obedience ~ Yesha’yahu 50:1-11

In my last post, we learned about The Restoration of Isra’el ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 49:15-26. In this post, we learn about Isra’el’s Sin and the Servant’s Obedience in Yesha’yahu 50:1-11.

1 Adonai says: “Where is your mother’s divorce document which I gave her when I divorced her? Or: to which of My creditors did I sell you? You were sold because of your sins; because of your crimes was your mother divorced.

Adonai had neither divorced nor given up on His people. It was they who had left Him to chase after other gods. He would still reach out to them and send Messiah to them. Tziyon continues to be described as the mother of Adonai’s people. Adonai is the father of His people. He put away Tziyon but did not divorce her (see Deuteronomy 24:1-4). Adonai sold His children, but not to settle a debt (so there are no creditors). Why did He do it? Because of their sins.

When one took out a loan or mortgage in the ancient Near East, the security took the form of a pledge of a personal item. Where there was no security to forfeit, debtors or their family members could be sold into slavery.

2 Why was no one here when I came? Why, when I called, did nobody answer? Is My arm too short to redeem? Have I too little power to save? With My rebuke I dry up the sea; I turn rivers into desert, their fish rot for lack of water and they die of thirst;

Adonai expressed wonder that His children did not expect redemption. He did not divorce Tziyon, and He did not sell His people to a creditor so that He could get them back. Further, Adonai is certainly powerful enough to save them. The act of drying up the waters reflects an ancient Near Eastern understanding that the waters stood for the forces of chaos. Adonai controlled them and could decimate them at will. His control of the waters and the reference to His redeeming hand recall the Exodus.

3 I dress the heavens in black to mourn and make their covering sackcloth.”

Sackcloth was a very rough material, irritating to the skin, worn as part of mourning rites. The heavens mourned because of Adonai’s acts of judgment.

4 Adonai Elohim (the Lord God) has given Me the ability to speak as a man well taught, so that I, with My words, know how to sustain the weary. Each morning he awakens My ear to hear like those who are taught.

The first-person speaker (Me) is the Servant (Yeshua). The speaker is a student of Adonai, trained to encourage those who are weary. Each morning Adonai awakens Him with new insight.

How did Yeshua have so much wisdom? How did He know just what to say? Morning by morning, He listened to His Father. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Yeshua got up, left, went away to a lonely spot and stayed there praying” ~ Mark 1:35 (CJB). In other words, while others were sleeping, Yeshua was seeking His Father. If He needed to do that, how much more do you and I have to do it?

5 Adonai Elohim has opened My ear, and I neither rebelled nor turned away.6 I offered My back to those who struck Me, My cheeks to those who plucked out My beard; I did not hide My face from insult and spitting. 7 For Adonai Elohim will help. This is why no insult can wound Me. This is why I have set My face like flint, knowing I will not be put to shame.

All I can think about in reading these 3 verses is the suffering and humiliation that Yeshua endured during His trial at the hands of the Romans and P’rushim.

Anticipating a fuller development in Yesha’yahu 52:13-53:12 (I can’t wait until we get there in our study), the Servant is one who suffers, though Adonai will keep Him from shame.

Why did Yeshua endure the shame, the spitting, the plucking of His hair, the beating of His back, the whipping, the brutality, the pain, and agony? The writer of Hebrews tells us it was for the joy set before Him that He endured the Cross, despising the shame (see Hebrews 12:2).

8 My vindicator is close by; let whoever dares to accuse Me appear with Me in court! Let whoever has a case against Me step forward! 9 Look, if Adonai Elohim helps Me, who will dare to condemn Me? Here, they are all falling apart like old, moth-eaten clothes.

“Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him,”Job declared (13:15 KJV). Yeshua would live out that which Job professed, knowing that, ultimately, Adonai Elohim, His Father, would help Him.

10 “Who among you fears Adonai? Who obeys what His servant says? Even when He walks in the dark, without any light, He will trust in Adonai’s reputation and rely on his God.

Yeshua would trust the Father even when the sky turned dark, and it seemed He had been forsaken (see Matthew 27:46). The Light of the world would trust His Father even in the darkness of the tomb.

11 But all of you who are lighting fires and arming yourselves with firebrands: go, walk in the flame of your own fire, among the firebrands you lit! From my hands, this [fate] awaits you: you will lie down in torment. ~ Isaiah 50:1-11 (CJB)

Opposite of the one who fears Adonai and leans on Him is the self-reliant person who tries to create light by his hand. He kindles his fire to produce light. Such people will experience torment from Adonai.

The lesson for us is to see how much better it is to walk in seeming darkness in obedience to the Father than to walk in the short-lived light of our understanding. Remember even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me ~ Psalm 23:4 (ESV).

In my next post, we learn about Everlasting Salvation for Tziyon in Yesha’yahu 51:1-16.

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The Restoration of Isra’el ~ Part 2 ~ Yesha’yahu 49:15-26

In my last post, we learned about The Restoration of Isra’el ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 49:8-14. In this post, we continue to learn about The Restoration of Isra’el ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 49:15-26.

15 Can a woman forget her child at the breast, not show pity on the child from her womb? Even if these were to forget, I would not forget you.

Adonai responded by reflecting on the persistent memory of a mother. Indeed, verse 18 may imply that Adonai addressed Tziyon as a husband treats a wife. He understood what she was going through and would soon address her complaints.

16 I have engraved you on the palms of My hands; your walls are always before Me.”

To inscribe something on one’s hands (tattooing perhaps) placed the writing on a bodily location that would be readily seen. The defensive walls of Yerushalayim were a concern of the Lord.

Jon Courson writes: “Whenever I am tempted to think Adonai has forgotten me, I need only to go to the Cross of Calvary, for there I’m reminded that He engraved me on the palm of His hands when in them He absorbed nails and paid the price for my sin.” [1]

17 Your children are coming quickly, your destroyers and plunderers are leaving and going. 18 Raise your eyes and look around: they are all gathering and coming to you. Adonai swears: “As surely as I am alive, you will wear them all like jewels, adorn yourself with them like a bride.”

Tziyon‘s children, the people of Adonai, will soon gather as they return to Yerushalayim. The picture of Tziyon wearing her children like wedding jewelry suggests that the passage understood Adonai to be her husband. The returned children were a wedding gift.

An Israeli bride sometimes wore embroidered garments, jewels, a special girdle, and a veil. There are scores of texts from Mesopotamia that describe the exchange of gifts between two families for marriage, but little is said of the attire of the bride or of the ceremony itself.

19 For your desolate places and ruins and your devastated land will be too cramped for those living in it; your devourers will be far away. 20 The day will come when the children born when you were mourning will say to you, “This place is too cramped for me! Give me room, so I can live!”

The passage envisions a return so significant that Yerushalayim will not be big enough to hold all its inhabitants.

21 Then you will ask yourself, “Who fathered these for me? I’ve been mourning my children, alone, as an exile, wandering to and fro; so, who has raised these? I was left alone, so where have these come from?”

Tziyon will be amazed and will wonder who has fathered all these children. The implied answer is none other than Adonai Himself.

22 Adonai Elohim answers: “I am beckoning to the nations, raising My banner for the peoples. They will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their shoulders. 23 Kings will be your foster-fathers, their princesses your nurses. They will bow to you, face toward the earth, and lick the dust on your feet. Then you will know that I am Adonai – those who wait for me will not be sorry.”

The deportation that began the exile saw the people of Adonai dragged off in chains by foreign armies. The picture of the return views the nations carrying them back to their land and showing subservience.

Far from forgetting His people, the Lord seems to be saying, “I’m going to bring you back into the Promised Land. Kings and queens of other nations will fall at your feet. Even Gentiles will assist you in your return. You don’t see the whole picture. All you see are the immediate obstacles, but I see down the road. I’m going to bring you back into your land. In fact, there will be so many of you and so prosperous will you be that it will be too small for you.”

Yet, another great promise of restoration. When your down and out, remember this promise for your own life.

24 But can booty be wrested from a warrior? Can a victor’s captives be freed? 25 Here is Adonai’s answer: “Even a warrior’s captives will be snatched away, and the booty of the fearful will be freed. I will fight those who fight you, and I will save your children. 26 I will feed those oppressing you with their own flesh; they will be drunk on their own blood as with wine. Then everyone will know that I, Adonai, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Ya‘akov.” ~ Isaiah 49:8-26 (CJB)

To be released from Bavel would have seemed an impossibility to the Jews. They will doubt that they can be delivered from their bondage and oppression, but Adonai will make it clear that He is able not only to rescue them but also to subject their captors to the punishment they deserved.

As we know from history, Adonai did indeed rescue them and restore them to their land. He has been doing it repeatedly for centuries, and in our lifetime, He has restored the State of Isra’el in preparation for His Second Coming.

In my next post, we learn about Isra’el’s Sin and the Servant’s Obedience in Yesha’yahu 50:1-11.

Click here for the PDF version.

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

The Restoration of Isra’el ~ Part 1 ~Yesha’yahu 49:8-14

In my last post, we learned about The Servant of the Lord in Yesha’yahu 49:1-7. In this post, we begin to learn about The Restoration of Isra’el ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 49:8-14.

Unfortunately, I have had to break the topic into two separate posts to maintain a readable length.

8 Here is what Adonai says: “At the time when I choose, I will answer you; on the day of salvation, I will help you. I have preserved you, and I have appointed you to be the covenant for a people, to restore the land and distribute again its ruined inheritances to their owners,

The covenant is a reference to the covenant made with Avraham in Genesis 12:2-3. Adonai will restore His people to the land He gave them and which they forfeited.

Sha’ul quotes this verse saying to the Corinthians: “As God’s fellow-workers, we also urge you not to receive His grace and then do nothing with it. For He says, ‘At the acceptable time I heard you; in the day of salvation I helped you.’” ~ 2 Corinthians 6:1-2 (CJB)

to say to the prisoners, ‘Come out!’ to those in darkness, ‘Show yourselves!’ They will feed along the paths, and all the high hills will be their pastures.

In His first sermon, Yeshua declared that His mission was, among other things, to preach deliverance to the captives, here prisoners (see Luke 4:18). Yeshua not only talked about doing this but accomplished it when He healed those who were bound by HaSatan (see Matthew 8:16) and, ultimately freed all of humanity from the stranglehold of sin through His death on the Cross.

 10 They will be neither hungry nor thirsty; neither scorching wind nor sun will strike them; for He who has mercy on them will lead them and guide them to springs of water.

What a great promise! The people of God have been in desperate straits, but Adonai will deliver them.

11 I will turn all My mountains into a road; My highways will be raised up. 12 There they come, some from far away, some from the north, some from the west, and some from the land of Sinim.”

The prophecy again uses language drawn from the Exodus and wilderness wandering traditions. Sinim is typically associated with modern Aswan in Egypt.

13 Sing, heaven! Rejoice, earth! Break out in song, you mountains! For Adonai is comforting his people, having mercy on his own who have suffered.

Yesha’yahu began with a prophecy calling on heavens and earth to serve as witnesses to testify that Adonai’s people deserved their punishment; now they rejoice in their restoration. The land is commanded to break into song at the prospect of the coming Messiah.

14 “But Tziyon says, ‘Adonai has abandoned me, Adonai has forgotten me.’

Tziyon, personified as a woman, represents Yerushalayim. She complained or lamented that Adonai had abandoned her. The verses that follow suggest that what she missed was her children or the inhabitants of Yerushalayim. Their absence in exile led her to suggest that Adonai had forgotten her.

In my next post, we will continue to learn about The Restoration of Isra’el ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 49:15-26.

Click here for the PDF file.

The Servant of the Lord ~ Yesha’yahu 49:1-7

In my last post, we examined Isra’el Freed in Yesha’yahu 48:12-22. In this post, we learn about The Servant of the Lord in Yesha’yahu 49:1-7.

Chapter 49 is a Messianic prophecy. It portrays the Prince of Peace, Yeshua HaMashiach.

1Coastlands, listen to Me; listen, you peoples far away: Adonai called Me from the womb; before I was born, He had spoken My name.

Coastlands is the same word translated islands in Yesha’yahu 41:1. It refers to the distant places of the earth. The Servant (see 49:3 below) spoke here and addressed all the peoples of the earth. He began by recounting His calling that started even before He was born.

In Psalm 22:9, another Messianic prophecy, we read that Yeshua had confidence in the Father even as an infant. Here, Yesha’yahu reiterates that, even as an infant, Yeshua knew the Father called him.

2 He has made My mouth like a sharp sword while hiding Me in the shadow of His hand; He has made Me like a sharpened arrow while concealing Me in His quiver.

The sword imagery is also used for the prophet’s word and Adonai’s Word in the Brit Hadashah. Since the sword was an offensive weapon, the implication is that the word is in some sense aggressive. One of the Hebrew words for the mouth (peh) also signified the term edge, as in “edge of the sword.” Thus, there may be a play on words in this verse.

The Servant was made to be a weapon in the arsenal of Adonai; the warrior to wage war against the chaos of the world. Indeed, His spoken Word was, like His written Word. See, the Word of Adonai is alive! It is at work and is sharper than any double-edged sword – it cuts right through to where soul meets spirit and joints meet marrow, and it is quick to judge the inner reflections and attitudes of the heart.” ~ Hebrews 4:12 (CJB)

3 He said to Me, “You are My servant, Isra’el, through whom I will show my glory.”

The Servant is identified as Isra’el. However, the Brit Hadasah authors recognized a second and more profound identification of the Servant as they associated these texts with Yeshua (see Matthew 8:17; 12:17-21; John 12:38; Acts 8:30-35).

4 But I said, “I have toiled in vain, spent My strength for nothing, futility.” Yet My cause is with Adonai; My reward is with My God.

Did Yeshua think He labored in vain? Humanly, He would have had a reason. He was betrayed by one of His disciples. And there was only one at the Cross. Indeed, our Lord must have struggled with the whispers of HaSatan, saying, “You failed. The masses have rejected You and even Your disciples have forsaken You.” [1]

5 So now Adonai says – I formed You in the womb to be His servant, to bring Ya‘akov back to Him, to have Isra’el gathered to Him so that I will be honored in the sight of Adonai, My God having become My strength –

In verse 3, the Servant identified himself as Isra’el; here, the Servant speaks as if He is the agent of Isra’el’s restoration. This seeming inconsistency is resolved once it is realized that it is the remnant, and ultimately the remnant of one – Yeshua – who functions in this way.

6 He has said, “It is not enough that you are merely My servant to raise up the tribes of Ya‘akov and restore the offspring of Isra’el. I will also make You a light to the nations, so My salvation can spread to the ends of the earth.”

As a nation, Isra’el’s original mission was to be a light to the rest of the world. But she turned inward. Not wanting to be polluted by the heathen, she lost compassion and vision for them. The nation of Isra’el failed. But the true Isra’el -Yeshua HaMashiach – never lost sight of His calling. He lived His life as the Light of the entire world and died to save all humanity.

7 Here is what Adonai, the Redeemer of Isra’el, His Holy One, says to the One despised, whom the nations detest, to the servant of tyrants: “When kings see You, they will stand up; princes too will prostrate themselves, because of Adonai, who is faithful, the Holy One of Isra’el, who has chosen You.” ~ Isaiah 49:1-7 (CJB)

Although Yeshua was despised and rejected in His First Coming, when He comes again, every knee will bow – in heaven, on earth, and under the earth – and every tongue will acknowledge that Yeshua the Messiah is Adonai – to the glory of God the Father. ~ Philippians 2:10-11 (CJB)

In my next post, we learn about The Restoration of Isra’el in Yesha’yahu 49:8-26.

Click here for the PDF version.

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

Stubborn Isra’el ~ Yesha’yahu 48:1-11

In my last post, we examined The Fall of Bavel in Yesha’yahu 47:1-15. In this post, we explore Stubborn Isra’el in Yesha’yahu 48:1-11.

Whereas chapter 47 dealt with Adonai’s judgment against Bavel, chapter 48 deals with Adonai’s grace toward Isra’el.

1 Listen to this, house of Ya‘akov, called by the name of Isra’el, who have come from the spring of Y’hudah, who swear by the name of Adonai and invoke the God of Isra’el! – it is not sincerely or justifiably

Yesha’yahu addressed those connected to Adonai by their genealogical descent from the patriarchs. Avraham was the father of Isra’el, the first Jew. He had a son named Yitz’chak (Isaac 0, who had a son named Ya‘akov (Jacob). Ya‘akov had twelve sons who became the fathers of the twelve tribes of Isra’el. Ya‘akov’s name, which means heel snatcher or supplanter, was appropriate because he was one who lived by his wits – conning and tricking people. But one night, seeing no way out of his circumstances, he wrestled all night with the angel of Adonai, saying, I won’t let you go unless you bless me. Genesis ~ 32:26 (CJB)

In the morning, the man said, From now on, you will no longer be called Ya‘akov, but Isra’el; because you have shown your strength to both God and men and have prevailed. ~ Genesis 32:28 (CJB)

2 that they call themselves people of the holy city or rely on the God of Isra’el – Adonai-Tzva’ot is His name: 3 I announced things that happened at the beginning, long ago; they issued from My mouth, I proclaimed them. Then suddenly, I acted, and they occurred.

The past events refer to the judgment of Adonai on His people. He announced what would happen to sinful Y’huda through Yesha’yahu, Yermiyahu, Yechzk’el (Ezekiel), and other prophets. He proclaimed what He would do and then acted on His words.

4 Because I knew that you were stubborn, your neck an iron sinew, your forehead bronze,

Nothing can get through a bronze forehead. An iron neck is stiff and cannot turn around. This imagery shows the refusal of Adonai’s people to hear Him or to repent.

5 I announced it to you long ago; before it occurred, I proclaimed it to you; so that you could not say, ‘My idol did it; my carved image, my statue, gave the order for it.’ 6 You have heard and seen all this, so why won’t you admit it? Now I am announcing new things to you, secret things you have not known,

Up to this point, Adonai has been announcing judgment, but soon He will announce new things – a message of grace after the judgment. Why had Adonai kept the news of eventual restoration hidden? The new items include Adonai’s use of Koresh to deliver His people that we will examine in the next post.

7 created now, not long ago; before today, you did not hear them: so you can’t say, ‘I already know about them.’ 8 No, you haven’t heard, and you haven’t known; these things have not reached your ears before. For I knew how treacherous you were – you were called a rebel from the womb.

Adonai’s people had been so seduced by idolatry that Adonai said, “I’m speaking prophetically so that when events unfold, you won’t think they happened according to your idols’ predictions.”

9 Yet for the sake of My own reputation, I am deferring My anger; for the sake of My praise, I am patient with you, so as not to cut you off.

Adonai will not completely destroy His people. A remnant will survive the judgment.

10 “Look, I have refined you, but not [as severely] as silver; [rather] I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.

Silver in the ancient world was refined by a process in which it was melted to rid it of base components. Silversmiths, as well as goldsmiths, used blowpipes to ventilate their furnaces and cast their products with the aid of soapstone or clay molds. The image of refining is often used in the Bible to refer to removing sin from a person or a community, in this case, through affliction.

11 For my sake, I will do it, for My own sake. I will not let [My reputation] be tarnished; I will not yield My glory to anyone else. ~ Isaiah 48:1-11 (CJB)

Sometimes we wonder why we face one affliction after another. Could it be it’s because we’re not learning our lesson? Could it be that we’re so stubborn that Adonai has to take us through the fire of affliction continually? Has He been speaking to you about some issue? Is there something He has told you need to be changed but about which you persistently say, “Maybe later, Lord”? We all go through fiery trials, and many are mandated. But, as we watch the people of Isra’el, we see that other tests are the result of our stubbornness concerning lessons Adonai wants to teach.

In my next post, we examine Isra’el Freed in Yesha’yahu 48:12-22.

Click here for PDF version.

The Fall of Bavel ~ Yesha’yahu 47:1-15

In my last post, we learned of the Gods of Bavel in Yesha’yahu 46:1-13. In this post, we examine The Fall of Bavel in Yesha’yahu 47:1-15.

Yesha’yahu 47 deals with the destruction of Bavel which, at this time, was a power just coming into prominence. Approximately 150 years after this prophecy was penned, Bavel would fall by the hand of Koresh, leader of the Medes and Persians.

1 “Come down, and sit in the dust, you virgin daughter of Bavel! Sit on the ground, not on a throne, daughter of the Kasdim! No longer are you to be called dainty and delicate.

The biblical writers often depicted cities as feminine in nature. The term virgin daughter was addressed to a community that faced disaster. In the ancient Near East, no one was considered a more helpless victim of war than the unmarried girl. Defeat often meant the loss of an intended husband as well as the loss of virginity at the hands of the marauding victors. [1]

To sit in the dust, just like sitting on the ground, was a sign of subservience and humiliation. Bavel, the mighty nation that achieved special status among the other countries of the world (pampered and spoiled), will be put in a position of shame. Up to this point in Yesha’yahu, only Adonai’s people have been called daughter by Adonai.

Being grafted into the Olive Tree, it’s a little easier to see how us guys can be considered as the Bride of Messiah.

2 Take the millstones, and grind meal; take off your veil, strip off your skirt, uncover your legs, wade through the streams.

Grinding meal (grain) at the flour mill was one of the most menial of tasks, often done by slave girls in both Egypt and Mesopotamia. In most ancient Near Eastern cultures, a married woman was partially veiled in public, and this was the mark of her marital status. Slaves or concubines could not afford to veil, and in any case, they did not have the legal right to be veiled. Bridges were virtually nonexistent in the ancient world, so streams and rivers were waded across at fords. A slave had to cross a stream on foot, in contrast to a rich person who was carried over in a carriage or a chair carried by servants. [2]

3 Your private parts will be exposed; yes, your shame will be seen. I am going to take vengeance, and no one will stand in My way.”

Bavel, personified as a young woman, will do her lowly chores – in contrast to her former exalted status – and then will strip to cross a stream. As she does so, her shame will be exposed. How humiliating! Adonai says she will indeed be defeated and humiliated.

4 Our Redeemer! Adonai-Tzva’ot is his name, the Holy One of Isra’el! 5 “Sit there speechless, go into darkness, you daughter of the Kasdim! For you will no longer be called the mistress of kingdoms.

Daughter of the Kasdim (Chaldeans) is a reference to the personified city of Bavel. Bavel had achieved dominance among the nations of the world, but its former glory will be turned to oblivion.

6 I was angry with My people, I desecrated My own possession and gave them over to you. But you showed them no mercy; you made your yoke very heavy, even upon the aged. 7 You said, ‘I will be mistress forever’ so you didn’t consider these things or think about the consequences.

Adonai has used Bavel as the tool of His anger against Y’hudah. Bavel’s yoke is an image of their political domination over Y’hudah. Because of her continued practice of idolatry, Y’hudah was carried into captivity for seventy years by the Bavlim. The Bavlim showed no mercy, even to the elderly. But Bavel overplayed its hand and sought its glory, not realizing that its pride would lead to retribution.

I think this lesson is an essential Word for us. The sorry tendency of humanity is to ask that mercy be shown to ourselves but judgment shown to others. Why? Because the sins of others always look so much worse than our sins. After all, we know the reason, the background, the excuses for our sin – but think no one else has any right to sin. Never overplay your hand.

8 Now hear this, you lover of luxuries, lolling at ease and saying to yourself, ‘I am important, and no one else! I will never be a widow or know the loss of children.’

The use of I am would have immediately struck a chord for this Israeli audience. There was no claim too arrogant for these kings to make for themselves. Only the one true God can claim I am!

9 But both will come over you in an instant, in a single day loss of children and widowhood; they will utterly overwhelm you, despite your many occult practices and powerful spells to prevent it.”

As so many kingdoms before and after her, Bavel thought herself invincible. In a single night, she fell to the invasion of Koresh and was thus rendered both widowed and childless due to loss of king and loss of life.

10 You were at ease in your wickedness, you thought, “No one sees me.” Your “wisdom” and “knowledge” perverted you, as you thought to yourself, “I am important, and no one else.” 11 Disaster will befall you, and you won’t know how to charm it away; calamity will come upon you, and you won’t be able to turn it aside; ruin will overcome you, suddenly, before you know it.

The Bavlim thought they were on top of every situation, that no one saw them. The atheist still holds this view. Atheists claim not to see Adonai – but the reason is that they don’t find Adonai any more than a thief finds a police officer.

12 So for now, keep on with your powerful spells and your many occult practices; from childhood, you have been working at them; maybe they will do you some good, maybe you will inspire terror! 13 You are worn out with all your consultations – so let the astrologers and stargazers, the monthly horoscope-makers, come forward now and save you from the things that will come upon you!

Bavlim culture was known for its infatuation with sorceries and spells, which represented a way to manipulate the gods. In particular, Bavel was known for attempts to determine the future by consulting the stars. Indeed, even after Bavel disappeared as an empire, the term Kasdim was used to designate astrologers.

Idols, crystals, tarot cards, and astrology will all be worthless in the day of judgment.

14 Look, they will be like straw! The fire will consume them. They will not save even themselves from the power of the flame. It will not be coals for warming oneself, not a fire to sit beside! 15 So much for your [wizards], with whom you have worked all your life! Each will wander off in his own direction, and nobody will save you. ~ Isaiah 47:1-15 (CJB)

The fortune-tellers and wizards who had freely plied their trade in Bavel would flee at her fall.

In my next post, we examine Stubborn Isra’el in Yesha’yahu 48:1-11.

Click here for the PDF version.

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

[2] Ibid.

Gods of Bavel ~ Yesha’yahu 46:1-13

In my last post, we explored Yerushalayim to Be Inhabited ~ Part 3 in Yesha’yahu 45:14-25. In this post, we learn of the Gods of Bavel in Yesha’yahu 46:1-13.

A contrast is drawn in this chapter between the idols that had to be carried and Adonai who carried the burdens of His people.

1 Bel bows down, N’vo stoops low; their idols are borne by animals, beasts of burden. The loads you yourselves were carrying are now burdening tired animals.

Bel was not a proper name in Bavel but was the Akkadian equivalent of Ba’al (lord). N’vo was the god of Borsippa, a city near Bavel. He was the god of wisdom and the patron deity of scribes and the son of Marduk. These gods, or more precisely, the idols that represented them, had to be carried on carts to move from one place to another. They were a heavy burden for the animals that carried them.

2 They stoop and bow down together; they cannot save the burden, but themselves go into captivity.

When one ancient Near Eastern power defeated another, they would carry off the idols of the conquered nation.

3 “Listen to me, house of Ya‘akov, all who remain of the house of Isra’el: I have borne you from birth, carried you since the womb. 4 Till your old age, I will be the same – I will carry you until your hair is white. I have made you, and I will bear you; yes, I will carry and save you.

The remnant were those Israeli who would survive the coming judgment. Adonai had carried or sustained His people from their birth. Rather than using beasts of burden to carry His people, Adonai carries them Himself all the days of their lives. That’s our promise as well.

5 To whom will you liken Me and equate me? With whom will you compare me, as if we were similar?”

Throughout history, people have tried to liken Adonai to various beings. The Greeks said, “If I were Adonai, I’d live on Mount Olympus, be all-powerful, and seduce pretty maidens.” So that’s what their gods did all day long: throw thunderbolts and chase women. In other cultures, people said, “If I were Adonai, I’d soar through the sky,” so they made their idols like eagles. People make gods out of what they think it would be fun to be. But the problem is, those gods become burdens. If your god is a pleasure, you will be burdened with lust. If your god is money, you’ll be in bondage to greed. If your god is your intellect, you’ll be weighed down by pride.

6 They squander the gold from their bags and weigh silver on a scale; they hire a goldsmith to make a god, before which they fall down and worship! 7 It is borne on shoulders and carried, then set in its place; and there it stands. From its place it does not move. If one cries to it, it cannot answer or save anyone from his troubles.

The images of deities in Mesopotamia were fed, dressed, and even washed daily. Food sacrifices were brought to the god daily (and no doubt eaten by the temple technicians). Other attendants were required to dress and undress the statue, and still, others were employed to wash the statue and transport it in times of celebration. [1]

Idols are worthless in the day of trial and tragedy. Not so the true and living Adonai.
8 Remember this, and stand firm. Keep it in mind, you rebels. 9 “Remember things that happened at the beginning, long ago — that I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.

To remember means to draw strength by contemplating Adonai’s past acts of power. Throughout Scripture, Adonai calls Believers to remember the work He has already done on their behalf (see Deuteronomy 5:15, 1 Chronicles 16:11-2, and 2 Timothy 2:8). Seeing Adonai’s hand in the past encourages us to seek His face in the present.

10 At the beginning I announce the end, proclaim in advance things not yet done, and I say that My plan will hold, I will do everything I please to do.

The gods of the ancient Near East were not capable of controlling the destiny of the world without help. In Mesopotamia, there existed the “tablets of destiny,” texts which contained the futures of all things (including the gods) in the universe. Whoever controlled these tablets controlled fate. Occasionally these tablets came into the “wrong hands,” and chaos ensued. Some gods, including Enki, wore sorcerer’s hats, showing that they could control and predict the future, but only by way of spells and incantations. Conversely, Adonai managed all things without resort to superficial means of tablets or spells. [2]

11 I call a bird of prey from the east, the man I intended, from a distant country. I have spoken and will bring it about; I have made a plan, and I will fulfill it.

Koresh, the King of Persia, was the bird of prey. The Persian ensign was an eagle.

 12 Listen to Me, you stubborn people, so far from righteousness: 13 I am bringing my justice nearer, it is not far away; My salvation will not be delayed, I will place My salvation in Tziyon for Isra’el My glory. ~ Isaiah 46:1-13 (CJB)

My salvation will not be delayed. He said the same thing concerning the vision He gave to Habakkuk, another of His prophets. For the vision is meant for its appointed time; it speaks of the end, and it does not lie. It may take a while, but wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. Habakkuk 2:3 (CJB)

Who or what do you put your trust in? Adonai or your own created idol?

The Lord’s timing is perfect. As seen in the next chapter, His delivery of His people was nearer than they could have imagined.

In my next post, we examine The Fall of Bavel in Yesha’yahu 47:1-15.

Click here for PDF version.

 

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

[2] Ibid.