Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
In last week’s study of Isaiah 53, we considered the vicarious sacrifice of Christ for the entire world. A completely selfless sacrifice of the Servant King prophesied hundreds of years before His birth. Prophecies that were undeniably accurate of the death, resurrection, sanctification and glorification of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Today’s study spans three chapters; divided into 3 parts. The Word of God is packed with very many precious promises; but two of the chapters we are studying today (54 & 55) are packed full of God’s promises to restore His people, His offer of salvation, and His many blessings – for both the Jews and the Gentiles. They contain some of the more quoted verses in Scripture, as well as our anchor scripture for last month. Isaiah 54:2-3.
PART 1: RESTORATION (ISAIAH 54:1-17)
After the prophet had foretold the sufferings of Christ in chapter 53, he foretells the flourishing of the church in chapter 54. Here, in Isaiah 54, we transition from the suffering to the result of that suffering – the deliverance of, and blessing for Israel. The death of Christ is the life of the church and of all that truly belong to it.
• Verses 1-6: The LORD Speaks to Israel as His Wife
The promises that the Lord bestows on His people following the work of the Messiah is amazing. The one that never had children will have more children than a woman who still has a husband. Israel will be restored like a barren woman who bears many children. The consequence of this increase is the call for enlargement. Israel will also be restored like a widow who is rescued from her reproach. “You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.”
• Verses 7-8: God Explains His Restoration of Israel.
Despite the length of time the Israelites were away in bondage, the Lord reckons it as only a moment. The contrast is between the moment of feeling forsaken and the everlasting nature of the kindness that will come. When we feel tried and forsaken, we should recognize that it is just for a moment, and the everlasting blessing will certainly come. 2 Corinthians 4:17 says: “For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” See Psalm 30:5
• Verses 9-13: Comfort and Assurance to Restored Israel.
Here, the prophet Isaiah compares the strength of this promise with that of the covenant God made with Noah after the flood (Genesis 9:11). He relates the suffering of the people with the tempest of the flood God used in destroying the earth. The Messianic kingdom is clearly seen in this passage, the main emphasis being God's prosperity, peace and protection for Israel. Even though enemies may contemplate coming against the inhabitants, they will not succeed
• Verses 14-17: Promises of Prosperity, Peace, and Protection.
These verses apparently foretell the growing number of unregenerate people during the millennium who will unite with Satan at the end of the 1,000 years and go to war (although a very short war) against the Messiah (Revelation 20:7-9). They will be destroyed, along with Satan, once and for all.
Verses 15 & 17: " Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake." 17 " No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn.."
PART 2: SALVATION (ISAIAH 55:1-15)
• Verses 1-5: An Invitation to Receive God’s Blessing, to be Led and Richly Fed
All call for everyone to be saved. The prophet calls out, loud and clear, to all that can hear. This is an important announcement and is therefore prefaced with this unique call. “Ho”. It is a short, significant appeal, urging you to be wise enough to attend to your own interests. We see here in verses 1-2 that eternal life cannot be bought; it may only be received as a gift. In Acts 13:34 Paul quotes a portion of verse 3, "Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David." He does so before his Jewish audience as supporting evidence that Jesus is the Messiah.
• Verses 6-7: An invitation to be Forgiven.
Here, Isaiah prophesies regarding the appeal that will be made by the Messiah to the Gentiles for salvation. The millennium (and thereafter) will not be inhabited by only Jewish people, but by all the righteous coming out of the tribulation, Jew or Gentile. However, we must seek the LORD while He may be found. He can only be found when our hearts are inclined to look for Him, and that inclination itself is a gift from God! We must receive the gift and make the most of it while we have it.
• Verses 8 -11: The Glorious Ways and Operation of the Word of God.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Here, Isaiah prophesies regarding the glorious ways and operation of the Word of God.
God is not just “talk.” When He talks, His words accomplish His intended purpose. The word of the LORD has power, and it never fails in His intended purpose.
• Verses 12 -13: The Joy and Blessing of Restoration.
Here, the prophet prophesies about the joy and blessing of restoration. When God’s people turn to Him, listen to Him, and His Word does His work in them, joy and peace are always the result. The joy is so great, that even the mountains and the hills, and the trees of the field join in.
PART 3: REWARD AND HOPE (ISAIAH 56:1-12)
God, through Isaiah's prophecy, has expressed his disappointment in the Jews for their disobedience and idolatrous practices. One obvious indicator of Israel's disobedience was their disregard for the Sabbath (mentioned in verses 2, 4 and 6). In the preceding chapters, God has promised Israel restoration during the millennium under the worldwide rule of the Messiah. In addition to Jews, here we find the extra benefit of the Messiah's rule during the millennium - blessings upon Gentiles (non-Jews) as well. In this passage Gentiles are referred to as strangers (in relationship to Israel).
• Verses 1-8: A Promise for Those Outside the Borders of Israel.
Verses 1-2 is a call to righteousness.
Keep justice, and do righteousness, for My salvation is about to come: This prophetic Word is directed to God’s discouraged people, who have slacked in obedience and righteousness. They see no reason to repent as long as things look down. God shakes them out of this by calling them to keep justice, and do righteousness in anticipation of what He will do.
God’s promise also extends to the eunuchs and to those outside the borders of Israel.
Verses 5 - 6 say:
“Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. 6 Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant”
Also observe the stipulations of verse 7,
"Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people."
This is the verse that Jesus quotes in the temple when he overthrows the money tables in Matthew 21:13, Mark 11:17, Luke 19:46.
Also, in these verses, special attention is given to the inclusion of those who were previously "cut off" from Israel i.e. eunuchs, as seen in Deuteronomy 23:1-2. This mention is apparently designed to show the extent to which all will be accepted during the millennium, including Gentiles, eunuchs. everyone.
• Verses 9-12: A Promise to Judge the Blind Leaders of God’s People.
Isaiah's prophecy takes up the issue of the wicked leadership in Israel. These leaders were immediately responsible for the nation's fall to the Assyrians and will in the future (to this prophecy) to the Babylonians. The Gentile armies (Assyrian and Babylonian) are referred to as beasts in this passage while the leaders of Israel/Judah have the distinction of being referred to as lazy, gluttonous watchdogs. It's a pretty vivid description - dogs that never bark, always sleep, but are always ready to eat. He also compares them to incompetent shepherds.
Verse 12 says: ““Come,” one says, “I will bring wine, And we will fill ourselves with intoxicating drink; Tomorrow will be as today, And much more abundant.”
Worse than being passively ignorant and blind, these leaders are actively wicked. As judgment approaches, they simply drink and get drunk. Proverbs 31:4-5 says: “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; Nor for princes strong drink lest they drink and forget what has been decreed, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights."
Hebrews 12:6 says: “For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”. Israel was chastised as a beloved child and restored as a barren wife. Because according to Psalm 30:5a, the Bible says: “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime”
Today, as “outsiders”, now accepted in the beloved, (Eph.1:6-7) we must remain eternally grateful to God for the redemptive work of the blood of Christ.