Rev Dr. Samson Parekh, Senior Pastor
RESURRECTION AND KINGDOM
Isaiah 53.10-12; 66.22-23
Isa. 53.10-12 states the resurrection of the Suffering Servant. In verse 9, the death of the Servant is mentioned. Now in verses 10-11, he sees the light of life and his offspring. So, the Servant is resurrected from death. Because he is alive, he is able to justify many by bearing their iniquities, imparting to them his own righteousness, and making intercession for them before God. Because he is alive, he also intercedes before God the Father for the sins that his subjects commit after their submission to him [1 Jn. 1:1-2].
At the end of his book, Isaiah mentions that the LORD will make a new heaven and a new earth [Isa. 66.22] and all mankind will come and bow down before him. The fulfillment of this prophecy is seen in Revelation Chs. 21-22 where apostle John sees a new heaven and a new earth with Jerusalem as its capital. Rev. 21.9 says that the Lamb, Jesus Christ, and his bride, the church will be there on the new earth.
Thus, all these things will happen through the agency of the resurrected Servant of the Lord, Jesus Christ. He will war against Satan, his accomplices, and his armies and defeat them [Rev. 19]. He will throw Satan and his accomplices into the lake of fire burning with sulfur [Rev. 20.9-10]. Then he will establish the righteous kingdom of God on earth where “there is no more death or mourning or crying or pain” [Rev. 21.4, cf. Isa. Chs. 9, 11]. Thus, in the servant songs of the book of Isaiah, Jesus is the humble servant of the LORD suffering afflictions and death as a Lamb of God. But in the book of Revelation, he is the lion of Judah, destroying Satan and his wicked subjects.
What we learn from various pictures of Jesus from the book of Isaiah is that the Servant who died to save man from sin and death is the resurrected Lord and will certainly establish his eternal and blessed Kingdom on earth [Isa. 9, 11]. Only those who believe in him as their Lord and Savior will be in that Kingdom. They might suffer pain and tribulation for a while in this world but will inherit God’s eternal Kingdom and live in his presence. Those who continue to reject Jesus and do not believe in him will be condemned to eternal destruction.
Therefore, let us submit ourselves to Jesus and be saved. And then, let us continue to fulfill his Great Commission of preaching his gospel to all people around us. Let us follow what Jude says in his epistle in 1.22-23, “Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire of hell and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear – hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” Let not our character and nature be contaminated by the corrupted and sinful system of the world but let us be holy as he is holy [1 Pet 1.16].
Let us conclude with Jude who says, “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen” [Jude 1.25].
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, grant us the grace, wisdom, and strength to be the truthful and faithful servants of our Lord Jesus Christ and help us to be in your Kingdom and bring many in your Kingdom. AMEN.
SUFFERING AND SALVATION OF THE SERVANT
Various proposals are made concerning the identity of the suffering servant in Isaiah Ch. 53. It could be the nation of Israel or King Hezekiah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, or even a ‘leper scholar’ [see footnote], etc. However, only Jesus meets the detailed description of the individual in this chapter. We notice two juxtaposed things.
The Servant suffered inhuman afflictions and death. He was despised by men and was stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God. He was taken before a judge by oppression and was wrongly accused. He was pierced for our transgressions. He was cut off from the land of the living and was assigned a grave with the wicked. This is the worst humiliation for any man. All this is fulfilled in Jesus, the Servant of the LORD.
However, he suffered all afflictions and death for us. He took upon himself our infirmities and iniquities. He was punished and crushed for our sins so that our sins would be forgiven. And we find peace with God and peace within ourselves, the peace that comes from the forgiveness of sins. Even though man considered Jesus a mere man and rejected him by turning their back on him, he still fulfilled his God-given mission of being a guilt offering for man through his vicarious death on the cross.
There are a few takeaways from this chapter. If we still live in rejection of Jesus, today is the day that we open our hearts and accept him as our Lord and Savior because he suffered afflictions and death out of his love for us. Let us not abuse his suffering and death by turning our back on him.
When we share Jesus’ message of peace and forgiveness with the world, we might suffer afflictions and persecution. But we must be persistent in sharing the message of the Servant’s sacrifice and salvation at any cost. Jesus could have saved himself from affliction and death [Mat. 26.53], but he did not because he did not come to save himself. He came to save the whole of humanity. Therefore, if we want to save our fellow man, we also must be ready to accept afflictions, humiliation, and even death like the disciples and many believers for the sake of Jesus. Only if we are willing to suffer rejection and humiliation, we can preach the Suffering Servant, Jesus, to man. And then God will use us to save our fellow man from sin and the eternal punishment of the fire of hell. We might have to sacrifice our comfort zone, pleasures, and entertainment. But following the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, we must be willing to do so if we truly love the suffering humanity all around us.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to be ready to suffer for Jesus Christ to save people around us. AMEN
PROTECTION OF THE LORD
This passage is a part of the fourth servant song in which God exalts the suffering Servant. God promised to go in front and rear of Israel when they go out of Babylonian exile to their home in Israel. However, even after the slavery, when Israel failed to be an obedient nation, the LORD sent one person from the nation, Jesus Christ, to be his Servant. Jesus, as a Good Shepherd leads all those who are “in him” [Eph. 2:6] and he becomes the rear guard for them. He leads them in wisdom and protects them from all over. Therefore, we walk on the way to heaven with complete confidence in him. He will never leave us nor forsake us [Heb. 13.5].
At his second coming, kings of the earth will be amazed because Jesus, the Messiah will be “raised and lifted up and highly exalted” [Phil. 2.9-10]. If we are ‘in him,’ then “God has raised us with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” [Eph. 2.6]. All those who look down upon us and persecute us will be amazed to see us at the right hand of God in Christ Jesus. So, like Jesus, let us continue to do the task God has assigned to us and wait for him to exalt us like Joseph in Gen. 41 [see also 1 Pet. 5.6].
In 52.14, Isaiah saw the Servant badly beaten on his face. So much so that his appearance was “disfigured and marred beyond human likeness.” He was beyond recognition at the time of his sacrifice for the sins of the nations. With his sacrifice, he sprinkled the nations with the sprinkling of cleansing [NIV note; Lev. 14.7; Num. 8.7; 19.18-19]. After his suffering and sacrifice, he was exalted. The kings and nations shut their mouths in astonishment at the suffering and exaltation of the servant. “Even though they have not heard a prophetic word, kings will understand the mission of the servant when they see his humiliation and exaltation” [NIV note].
Here, Isaiah shows that the message of the servant was not only for a select few people, the Jews but for the people of all nations [Gen. 12.1-3]. That is the primary reason that Jesus gave his Great Commission to us before his departure to the right hand of the Father. Therefore, preaching the gospel to all nations must be the sole priority of God’s people even if we have to suffer opposition, disdain, and even violence. Whole-hearted obedience to the will of the Servant of the LORD at any cost is a mark of God’s faithful people. Let us be those people.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to bless all nations with the gospel of Jesus Christ through our words and works. AMEN
THE SERVANT OF THE LORD – III B
This third servant song describes the suffering of the servant. As we saw earlier, various possibilities are posed about his identity. However, the description in these verses fits only one Servant of the LORD, Jesus Christ because this prophecy was fulfilled only in him. He was beaten on the back [Mk. 15.15]. He was beaten on the face [Lk. 22.63-65]. There is no mention of the pulling of his beard in the gospels but from this prophecy we can imagine that the soldiers pulled his beard too. He was mocked and spat upon [Mk. 15. 19-20]. The Servant set his face like a flint. This was fulfilled in Lk. 9.51. Knowing what was awaiting him in Jerusalem, “he resolutely set to go to Jerusalem.”
Spurgen correctly says, “We have before us the language of prophecy, but it is as accurate as though it had been written at the moment of the event.” And Bultema asserts, “He suffered the deepest humiliation, for to pluck out the beard and to cover someone’s face with spit was, according to Near-Eastern concepts, the most humiliating suffering that could be inflicted upon a man.” The Creator of man suffered such humiliation at the hands of man whom he created in his very image. But he went through all the humiliation and suffering to pay the penalty of man’s sins and to deliver him from eternal suffering.
So, it is expected from his disciples to suffer for bringing his salvation to man. It is not easy. “Many of us could give to Christ all our health and strength, and all the money we have, very heartily and cheerfully; but when it comes to a point of reputation, we feel the pinch. To be slandered, to have some filthy thing said of you; this is too much for flesh and blood. But a true servant of Christ must make himself of no reputation when he takes upon himself the work of his Lord” [Spurgen]. As Jesus trusted his heavenly Father to help him, we too must trust God to help us through the sufferings that we might encounter to bring his salvation to the world. Phil. 1.29 says, “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for his sake.” Apostle Paul is a prime example of such suffering. He says, “Therefore, I am well content with weakness, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake.”
Humiliation and suffering are part of Christian life because our values are up against the value system of the world. Jesus says, “A servant is not greater that his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” [Jn 15.20]. As we reflect on the sufferings of Jesus during this Lent Season, let us be ready to go through suffering and humiliation for Christ’s sake and for the sake of the lost humanity. Like the Servant of the LORD, we must give ourselves to our persecutors willingly and with forgiving spirit so that through that brokenness, the light of our Savior be made manifest to them.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to be ready to suffer for the sake of Jesus and his gospel. AMEN.
THE SERVANT OF THE LORD – III A
This is the third servant song that talks about the Messiah Jesus. Here, the servant claims to receive from the LORD a well-learned tongue so that he can speak with wisdom. He receives this wisdom by having fellowship with the Sovereign LORD every morning. We see this fellowship of Jesus with his heavenly Father in Mk. 1.35. It says that very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went off to a solitary place. There he spent time in prayer with his heavenly Father. Before selecting his 12 disciples, Jesus prayed all night [Lk 6.12-13]. Jesus often spent time in prayer. Because of his total submission, his ears are opened by the LORD to listen and learn from him.
This is a great encouragement for us to spend regular time in the presence of our heavenly Father to learn his wisdom in all circumstances. The more we listen to the LORD, the more we learn from him how to speak wisely with people. Prov. 10.20 says, “The tongue of the righteous is choice silver” and “from the mouth of the righteous comes the fruit of wisdom” [Prov. 10.31]. Therefore, we must get the wisdom from above first which is described in James 3.17, “Wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” And then speak.
There is a specific purpose for the servant in listening to the LORD and learning wisdom from him. It is to encourage and sustain the weary. At times, we come across people around us who are crumbling with a load of care and disheartenment. They find it difficult to go on with life, even Christian life. At that time, the servant helps by sustaining them in their faith with words of wisdom. He provides them the godly and divine counsel. Jesus gave such counsel to many people while he was on earth, e.g., Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman, Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha, and many others. He is a wonderful counselor.
Even today, Jesus provides wise counsel through God the Holy Spirit. He says in Jn. 14.16, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” Again, he says in Jn. 13.13, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”
We must get divine wisdom by being in constant fellowship with the LORD and use the words of the tongue for encouraging one another because “the tongue has the power of life and death” [Prov. 18.21] and “The soothing tongue is a tree of life” [Prov. 15.4]. Prov. 12.18 says, “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Therefore, like the Servant, let us get the wisdom from the LORD and use it to encourage, sharpen, and heal one another as Heb. 3.13 says, “But exhort one another every day, so long as it is called ‘today’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to get your wisdom by being in constant fellowship with you and encouraging each other with our wise words. AMEN.
THE SERVANT OF THE LORD – II
In this passage, Isaiah explains the second servant song. Isaiah describes an individual who was called to fulfill the purpose of the LORD before he was born. Israel was called to be the servant of the LORD, to display his splendor, and to be a light to the Gentiles but Israel failed to do so [v. 3]. So, the LORD chose an individual from the nation of Israel, the Messiah Jesus who proclaimed that he was called by his name before he was born. Although in Isa. 9.1-7 and 11.1-5, we see that Jesus’ coming was predicted before he was conceived, he starts here at the point where humans came into the world. This was fulfilled in Lk. 1.31. God declared his Servant’s conception through the angelic agency and declared his name Jesus before he was conceived [Mat 1.20-21].
The Messiah had power and authority in his words. He was like a polished arrow in the hands of the LORD ready to be used at the right time for his purpose [Guzik]. That purpose is described in verse 5 as “to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself.” Then, through Israel reach out to the whole world with God’s salvation [see Gen. 12.1-3]. Jacob is another name used for Israel. Since the servant’s task is to bring the nation of Israel back to the LORD, Israel cannot be the servant. The Servant was Jesus the Messiah. He was called to become the light for the nations and bring the LORD’s salvation to all.
As mentioned in the last devotional, Jesus fulfilled God’s purpose faithfully and became the light for the nations. Because of stubbornness and unbelief, the nation of Israel did not come back to the LORD and failed to become the light to the Gentile nations. Therefore, they are like branches broken off from the olive tree. Now, we Gentiles and the Jews who believe in Jesus are grafted in the olive tree and share in its nourishing sap [Rom. 11:17-32]. We not only share the sap of the tree, but we also share the privilege and responsibility to further the purpose of the Servant to be the light and bring his salvation to the ends of the earth by proclaiming the gospel.
Thus, this passage in Isa. 49 is an important reminder of God’s love, grace, and election of us for his purpose. We are called to be his servants and light to the people around us. Therefore, unlike the nation of Israel, let us be vigilant in fulfilling this calling and always remember that God is with us. He has called us by name and he will empower us with his grace and strength to become his light by living and proclaiming the gospel. Let us be like the Servant in Isaiah and bring glory and honor to the name of the LORD.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to be your faithful servants and share the good news of salvation through Jesus with the world around us. AMEN.
HE SERVANT OF THE LORD – I
Beginning with Bernhard Duhm, theologians have identified 4 servant songs in the book of Isaiah which include 42.1-4; 49.1-6; 50.4-11; 52.13-53.12. Various opinions are expressed about this servant figure. Interpreters have presented a few possibilities on the precise identity of the servant from Isaiah to Cyrus, Israel, a Davidic king, etc. However, none of them fits the description.
The servant songs are given in the context of the slavery of God’s people. The temple of Jerusalem was in ruins, and kingship was at an end at that time. Zion and the land of Israel were diminished to ruins. Without them, the mission of Israel to be a light for Gentile nations was hopeless. They needed a vision of deliverance and an assurance of return and restoration to their promised land before they could fulfil God’s purpose to bring his salvation to the ends of the earth.
In this difficult political and religious scenario, Isaiah 42 introduces a servant figure. Isaiah initially identifies God’s servant as Israel (41:8; 44:1–2), who was chosen to serve as God’s witness (43:10) and as a light to the Gentiles. Yet Israel became deaf and blind (42:19. Israel failed drastically and ended up in captivity.
However, by quoting this passage, Matthew categorically conveys that this prophecy is fulfilled in Jesus [Mat. 12.16-21]. As the servant of the LORD, Jesus the Messiah, completed everything that is described in this prophecy. He was not only conceived by the Holy Spirit but also was filled with God’s Spirit and did his ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit [Mat. 3.16] and in the meekness and humility of heart [Mat. 11.29]. He brought about justice and righteousness. And on his second coming, he will establish the kingdom of righteousness on earth. He became the light for all nations through his sinless life and his atoning death on the cross and resurrection. He opened the physical and spiritual eyes of those who lived in the darkness of sin when they believed in him. And he alone made a provision for the deliverance of those who were sitting in the darkness of sin and death. He established the New Covenant in his blood with all those who believed in him.
Thus, the servant described in Isa. 42 is none other than Jesus the Messiah. We, as his disciples, must be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and be a servant of the LORD like him [Mk. 10.41-45]. In all meekness and humility of heart, we also must fulfill his commission to bring his light to all people by faithfully reflecting it through our lives because the world is sitting in the darkness of sin and eternal death. Humanity is in ruins and needs a vision of deliverance and assurance of return and restoration to the living God just as Israel did in exile. Their only hope is the Servant of the LORD who faithfully fulfilled his God-given commission for the salvation of man. Now, we must fulfill his commission to proclaim his salvation to all people. Let us continue to live in his light and share his light.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to demonstrate the servanthood of the Servant, Jesus Christ, and bring his light to the world. AMEN.
DO NOT FEAR
In these verses Isaiah demonstrates God’s sovereignty that he can use anyone, even the Gentiles, to fulfill his purpose and plan. In verse 1, God poses a challenge to the Gentile nations that their gods cannot demonstrate the same power and wisdom as our God does which is described in Ch. 40.
In verse 2, God chooses a Gentile king as his servant to accomplish his promise to his chosen people. At this time, the people of Israel are still in the captivity of Babylon. The seventy years of their promised exile are going to be over soon [Jer. 25.12; Dan 9.24]. In Jer. 25.12, God promised to punish Babylon and deliver his people from exile. But Babylon was an extremely powerful nation and the city of Babylon was unconquerable. Herodotus states that the protection wall of Babylon was 85 feet wide and 335 feet high with 250 defensive towers. They were about 60 miles long with a moat around them. In addition, the Babylonian soldiers were well-trained and fearsome [Hab. 1.5-11]. It seemed impossible to defeat Babylon and rescue Israel. Therefore, Israel seems to be afraid.
At that time, God “stirred up one from the east, calling him in righteousness to his service” [v. 2; 44.28]. This was Cyrus the Great, the king of Persia [559-530 B.C.]. God mentions him by his name [Isa. 44.28; 45.1, 13]. Cyrus conquered the invincible city of Babylon in just one night when Babylonian king Belshazzar and his officials were indulged in a great banquet [41.25; Dan. Ch. 5]. However, it is made clear in Isa. 41.2, 4, and 45.1 that it was God who handed the nations to Cyrus and subdued their kings to him because God chose Cyrus to carry out his righteous purpose of bringing out his people Israel from exile and back to their homeland [44.28].
In this passage, we see the ultimate sovereignty and authority of God. He works out of the human perception to fulfill his promises and accomplish his plans [Hab. Ch. 1]. Isaiah reminds us that the sovereign God has the power and authority to raise and bring down nations and kings as he sees fit. God is always on his throne and works in various ways that we cannot always comprehend. But we must believe that God, in his sovereignty, can use multiple ways and people to fulfill his promises, bring about his plans, and bring justice to his people. God is not restrained by human limitations in making a way for his people. God can raise wicked rulers to bring persecution and strengthen his people’s faith in him. And God can bring them down when his plan is accomplished. Therefore, we always must trust the righteous judgments of God even if they defy our understanding, and live in peace. Let us remember and trust God’s promise in Isa. 41.10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to trust your sovereign ways even if we may not be able to comprehend them. AMEN
THE GREATNESS OF GOD
In Isa. 40:11, God is depicted as a gentle shepherd who takes loving care of his people and provides for all their needs. However, beginning from verse 12, Isaiah depicts God with transcendence, sole sovereignty, and matchless authority over the entire creation. As we go through the Book of Isaiah, we must keep before us both the pictures of God to grow in our love for him, faith in him, and awareness of his awesomeness.
In verses 12-25, Isaiah describes the incomparable greatness of God who created the world and sustains it perfectly well with his might and power. The greatness of God boosts our faith in him and our reliance upon him in all circumstances, whether good or bad. At the same time, it constantly reminds us how small we are compared to the eternal glory, majesty, and power of the Lord. We have nothing to boast about except the Lord who made the heavens and the earth and who stretches out the heavens like a canopy. He creates the starry host of heavens and calls each by name. His power sustains the entire celestial body and none of the stars in the solar system is missing.
Our God measures the waters of the sea in his palm and the heavens with the span of his hands. Before him, nations are less than nothing and like a drop in a bucket. Islands are like fine dust before him. In these verses, we see the infinite wisdom, knowledge, and power of God. Every detail in the entire creation is known to him. He has aligned everything in its place in perfect order.
As far as people are concerned, they are like grasshoppers and the mighty princes and kings are nothing before him. They are transitory like chaff before the wind. A whirlwind sweeps them away. They are brought to naught.
Only “the LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth who will not grow tired or weary” [40.28]. Therefore, we must count it a privilege and honor to become his children by faith in Jesus Christ and have our hope in him. Then, he will sustain us and bless us. He will strengthen us when we grow weary and increase our power in our weakness [40.29]. He says, “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint” [40.30-31]. Let us renew our strength by trusting our almighty God with all our hearts and live our lives in complete devotion and submission to him. Let us have the picture of the LORD as a Good Shepherd and as an awesome Creator and sustainer of the whole world always before us. Then we will experience the renewal of our strength and live the Christian life as more than conquerors.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to follow you as our Good Shepherd and rely on you to renew our strength every day. AMEN
THE GOOD TIDINGS
In verse 9, Zion and Jerusalem are synonymous. In this verse, all the verbs and participles are in the feminine gender. So, not a prophet or an evangelist but God’s chosen city, Jerusalem is mentioned. The King James Version is preferable as, “O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!” God’s chosen city, Jerusalem, is exhorted to bring the good news of salvation. She is asked to proclaim it by shouting from the top of the mountain to all people who are in slavery of Babylon and are to be set free by the Lord.
Thus, Jerusalem is exhorted to proclaim to the enslaved community that their sin of rebellion is paid for. Now their God is coming with power and authority to save them. Their reward in terms of the deliverance from captivity, peace, and prosperity accompanies him. Also, God is coming like a gentle shepherd who will carry them in his arms like lambs. He will consider them precious by holding them close to his heart and gently leading them to the promised land from where they were plucked out due to their rebellion. He will provide for all their needs as a shepherd does for his sheep.
In this section, there are a couple of encouragements for us. When we believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we become the citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem [Heb. 12.22, Eph. 2.6]. As a part of the heavenly community on earth, we are mandated to proclaim the good news of salvation from the slavery of sin to all people. This salvation is brought about by the one and only Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. He says in John 10:14, “I am the good Shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me … and I lay down my life for the sheep.” By giving his life on the cross, he evidenced to us that he is truly a good Shepherd.
When we follow the Good Shepherd, he will set us free from the slavery of sin and gently lead us on the way of righteousness into the presence of our heavenly Father. Then we are encouraged to proclaim the good news to the world. For it is said in Isaiah 52.7, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.'” So, as the body of Jesus Christ, let us fulfill his mandate of proclaiming the gospel to all people.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to proclaim the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ to all people around us. AMEN.
PREPARE THE WAY
It is generally believed that Isa. 40-55 is written by a disciple of Isaiah. Therefore, it is called Deutero-Isaiah or Second Isaiah. However, this writer believes in the Isaianic authorship of the entire book, i.e., God inspired the prophet Isaiah to write the whole book. The Deutero-Isaiah came into the picture primarily because of the total change of subject matter from the exile of God’s community in Chs. 1-39 to their return to the homeland in Chs. 40-55.
Chapter 40 begins with a double imperative, “comfort, comfort.” The repetition is for emphasis [51.9, 17; 52.1, 11; 57.14; 62.10]. God’s people must comfort themselves because the penalty of their rebellion against the Lord is paid for by enduring the captivity of Babylon. Their seventy years of exile are going to come to an end, and they are going to return to their homeland. On their way back, the hostile obstacles of nature will be taken care of. God will prepare a highway for them to travel back to Israel. In addition, the LORD will send before them a messenger to prepare the way. This promise of God will surely come about because unlike the fading away of grass and flowers, it will stand forever as it is from the LORD. And Israel did return to their homeland beginning in 540 B.C. during the rule of king Cyrus.
However, this promise found its eschatological fulfillment in the messenger, John the Baptist, who was sent to proclaim the deliverance from the slavery of sin by Jesus Christ [Lk. 3.1-18]. When the world was under the captivity of sin, John the Baptist came proclaiming the good tidings of salvation through the Lamb of God. He said, “After me will come one who is more powerful than I … he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” He also proclaimed the judgment upon sin through Jesus by casting sinners in the unquenchable fire. He called upon people to repent by saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
We too need to convey God’s comfort to people who are under the slavery of sin by proclaiming to them the deliverance through Jesus Christ because the penalty of their sins is paid by him. We must call people to repent of their sins to Jesus and believe in him as their Savior because the second coming of Jesus is nearer than ever before. We are the messengers and ambassadors of Jesus Christ.
However, we need to make the way for the Lord in our lives first by cleansing our hearts and removing any hurdles. We must allow him to straighten up the rough edges and corners in our lives and reach out to the people sitting in the darkness of sin with the good news of salvation. Then, the Lord will reveal his glory for all people and they will come to him.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to prepare the way in our hearts and reach out to the people sitting in the darkness of sin
POWER OF PRAYER
Isaiah Chapter 38
From verses 1-2, we notice that king Hezekiah was at the point of death due to illness. Even the prophet Isaiah conveyed to Hezekiah that he was going to die, so he must put his house in order before his death. From 2 Kgs 18.2, 2 Kgs 20:6, and Isa. 38.10, we can infer that Hezekiah was a young man of 39 years when he learned about his death. He apparently had no son as a successor to his throne yet [Isa. 39.7; 2 Kgs. 21.1].
So, he prayed to the LORD talking about his merits and his whole-hearted devotion. His prayer might sound ungodly in our time. But as Guzik asserts that under the Old Covenant, this was a principle on which he approached God with pleading for his life [Job 12.4; 29.14; Ps. 7.8; 18.20, 24] . We can see his devotion, zeal, and good works in biblical accounts. 2 Kgs. 18:4 states, “He removed high places, broke down the pillars, and cut down the Asherah pole, He broke in pieces the bronze serpent … because the people of Israel had made offerings to it.” In doing so, the faithful king Hezekiah “did what was right in the sight of the Lord.” 1 Chr. 31.21 states, “In everything he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law … he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so prospered.”
He turned to the Lord with utter humility and bitter weeping. God heard his prayer. God did not take away his death but added fifteen years to his life and gave him the promise and sign to deliver Jerusalem from the hand of the king of Assyria.
This chapter is a great example of the power of prayer and the faithfulness of the LORD in answering our prayers. Like Hezekiah, when we trust the LORD and turn to him with a humble and pleading heart for his grace in the time of our need, he surely hears our prayers and answers them. He is a faithful God.
However, under the New Covenant, we approach God by faith based on the righteousness and grace of Jesus Christ [Phil. 3.9]. We approach him in the name of Jesus [Jn 6.23-24], not in the name of who we are or what we have done [Guzik]. Therefore, as the writer of the Epistle of Hebrews says, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” [Heb. 4.16]. And he will surely answer our prayers and deliver us from the most difficult circumstances.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to approach your throne of grace in the name of Jesus to get help in the time of our need. AMEN.
EVERYTHING TO GOD IN PRAYER
King Hezekiah of Judah faced a devastating and impossible situation. The powerful Assyrian king Sennacherib laid siege to Jerusalem and threatened to annihilate it. Sennacherib conquered many nations, but their gods could not defend them [36.19; 37.12-13]. Now he ridiculed Hezekiah and the LORD, saying that the LORD is powerless to protect his people in Judah like other gods. So, they must surrender to him.
For Hezekiah, this day was “a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace” [Isa. 37.3]. But Hezekiah had faith in the LORD. He turned to him by asking for godly counsel through the prophet Isaiah [37.3]. Isaiah assured him that the LORD will send Sennacherib back to his country and cut him down with the sword. This happened in 681 B.C. when king Sennacherib returned to Assyria and his sons killed him there.
Also, when king Hezekiah received the threatening letter, he immediately turned to the LORD and went to the temple to pray for his intervention. First, Hezekiah worshipped God as the enthroned King and acknowledged his sole sovereignty and power over all the Kingdoms as a Creator. Then, he prayed for deliverance from the mighty Assyrians so that all the kingdoms on earth may know that the LORD alone is God [Isa. 37.20]. The glory of the LORD should be the objective of any deliverance.
We too face spiritual battles in life. Sometimes, the circumstances seem to be overwhelming and even impossible for deliverance. In those times, we must trust the LORD, seek his counsel by going to his Word, and turn to him in prayer. Prayer is a powerful weapon for victory over our most formidable enemies. Like king Hezekiah, we also must trust in the sole sovereignty, authority, and power of the LORD and bring our impossible situation before him in prayer. Because he knows our plight and is able to turn any situation around, he will surely deliver us. However, the purpose of the answer to our prayers and deliverance must be to glorify the LORD. Our deliverance must bring glory to the name of the LORD.
When we bring everything to the LORD in prayer, let us be convinced that he is greater than any problem we may face in life. Like Hezekiah, when we trust the LORD, he will always come to our rescue. Therefore, let us take courage and pray with confidence, knowing fully well that our faithful Heavenly Father is always on our side to help in every situation. Romans 8:31 says, “If God be for us, who can be against us?”
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to trust you and come to you in prayer during times of affliction. AMEN
THE RETURN OF THE REDEEMED
Isaiah Chapter 35
God sent his rebellious and sinful nation into exile. Now, in this chapter, Isaiah is addressing the community of God’s people that are going to return from exile soon. They have a long way to travel from Babylon to their homeland, Israel. So, they are encouraged to be strong and have no fear because the LORD will take vengeance with divine retribution on their captors and save his people [v. 4]. As they return, their eyes which were blinded, and ears which became deaf because of their rebellion against the LORD, will be opened. They will be able to see and hear about his marvelous works.
God will make impossible things possible. There will be streams, springs, and pools of water in the desert as they travel through it. They will see the lame leaping and the dumb shouting with joy. God will make a Highway of Holiness for them to walk on it and return to their homeland. Those who put their faith in the LORD and are redeemed by him “will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away” [Isa. 35.10]. However, due to their continued unfaithfulness to the LORD, the above promises were not fully realized.
Now, these promises are fulfilled as the redeemed community of Christ, the church, enters Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem [Heb 12.22]. They are redeemed from slavery to sin and Satan. They have seen the power of Jesus to heal the lame, the deaf, and the demon-possessed. He has prepared a Highway of Holiness leading into the presence of God through his death on the cross and resurrection. Only those who are cleansed, and made holy by the blood of the Lamb of God can travel in this way. The sorrow of sin and judgment is eliminated. Now their mouths are filled with the joyful song of praise and thanksgiving. They are given everlasting joy in their hearts.
As we travel on the way of holiness and righteousness, let us get rid of any sorrow of sin that might linger around us and as a member of the redeemed community of the LORD, let us be filled with songs of praise, thanksgiving, and everlasting joy. Amidst the constantly changing circumstances and people of the world, let our joy remain unchangeable.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, fill our hearts with the songs of praise and thanksgiving to you so that we may rejoice in you always. AMEN.
THE CONSUMING FIRE
In these verses, Isaiah describes God as a consuming fire that burns forever [see also, Heb. 12.29]. In verse 1, the Assyrian’s treacherous invasion is mentioned. By making encroachment on God’s people and boasting arrogantly about their might against the Holy One, Assyrians were playing with the consuming fire. Therefore, after they brought destruction upon Israel, God the consuming fire, consumed them totally. Their destruction came about in the 7th Century B.C.
But God is not a consuming fire to the sinful Gentile nations only. He is a consuming fire for the sinners who dwell in his own city, Zion. There were sinners among God’s people. They realize it by saying, “Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?” [Isa. 33.14]
This question must be asked by all those who call themselves “Christian” but still live in sin. For them, the LORD is a consuming fire. On the day of judgment, he will cast the sinners into “the fiery lake of burning sulfur” [Rev. 21:8] regardless of their religion of religiosity. But the good news is that God has made a provision by which we can dwell with him. If we walk righteously, speak what is right, reject evil gain, and stop thinking about hurting the interest of others, then we can dwell with the LORD [Isa. 33.15].
All the above is possible through the transformation of the heart. And only Jesus is able to transform our hearts. Our heart is full of sinfulness from birth. By our own strength, it is impossible to have a change of heart. But when we repent of our sins and believe in Jesus Christ, he transforms our hearts. When we have a new heart, we can walk in righteousness and holiness and be able to do everything that is described in Isa. 33.15.
Then we become the members of his kingdom that cannot be shaken [Heb. 12.28] and behold by faith the awesomeness of the King enthroned on his eternal throne. The realization of the awesomeness, majesty, and glory of the eternal King will result in being truly thankful to him and in worshiping and serving him with reverence and awe [Heb 12:28-29]. Bruce correctly asserts, “the sacrificial worship must be offered with a due sense of the majesty and holiness of the God with whom we have to do; not only thankfulness but humble reverence and awe must mark his people’s approach to him; ‘for our God is a consuming fire’ … because that fire still consumes in the white heat of his purity everything that is unworthy of himself.”
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to offer our worship that is acceptable in your sight with reverence and awe.” AMEN.
HOPE IN HOPELESSNESS
In this chapter, we again see an abrupt shift from the existing context to an eschatological one by the ministry of the Spirit of God. The situation is transformed from pessimism to optimism. In the present scenario, the women are asked to mourn and beat their breasts in lament because their nation is going to be in ruins. “The fortress will be abandoned, the noisy city deserted; the citadel and watchtower will become a wasteland forever” [v. 14].
It is because of their complacency and a false sense of security. Micah, the younger contemporary of Isaiah, describes this false security more vividly in Micah Ch. 3. The priests, prophets, and leaders of God’s people indulged in gross wickedness and “distorted all that is right” [v. 9]. Yet, they leaned upon the LORD and said, “Is not the LORD among us? No disaster will come upon us” because the temple of the Lord was amidst them in Jerusalem on Mt. Zion [v.11-12]. Therefore, God himself allowed “Zion to be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem to become a heap of rubble” including the temple, the object of false security.
So, God will allow disaster and ruin to come upon his people. But Isaiah gives a message of hope to those who will experience this disaster. God will pour his Spirit upon them and bring about his justice and righteousness. God will bring them back into his land. Then, “The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest” [32.17-18].
Quite often Isaiah reminds us that the situation in the world and even in the community of God’s people will be distressful because of the complacency of people. Yet, he always assures us that God will bring about his kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy through the King of righteousness, Jesus Christ. There will be an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. So, he always encourages us to be persistent in enduring the present trials and tribulations because they are going to end.
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit has already happened on the day of Pentecost. Through his ministry, we can enjoy new life in our hearts now and for eternity. Amid the trials and afflictions, we can find comfort in the fact that they are temporary, and God will bring them to an end in the coming Kingdom. When we surrender our lives to his Son Jesus, and follow his path of righteousness, we will experience the peace that surpasses all human understanding and live in peace with God and fellow man. So, let us continue to cling close to the Lord, look forward to his Kingdom of righteousness, and enjoy his peace now and forever.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to focus on your coming kingdom and be assured of your peace in this life and forever. AMEN.
In this chapter, Isaiah narrates Israel’s rejection of the LORD and reliance on a foreign power, Egypt. This is a willful rejection of the LORD because instead of carrying out his plans, Israel made her own plans to form an alliance with Pharaoh of Egypt, a superior military power in the world. Israel thought that Pharaoh and his powerful army would protect them against their enemies. Israelites even prohibited the prophets from prophesying on behalf of the Lord and seeing his visions. Thus, they became “rebellious people and deceitful children unwilling to listen to the LORD’s instruction” [Isa. 30.9] and became totally disloyal to him.
But Isaiah sternly warns them that Egypt is like a weak wall that will crack and bulge. It will “collapse suddenly in an instant … and break in pieces like pottery, shattered so mercilessly that among its pieces, not a fragment will be found” [vv. 13-14]. Ultimately Egypt’s power crumbled against her enemies.
Only if Israel returns to the LORD and repents of her rejection of him and reliance upon other powers, and trusts in him, she will have salvation and rest. Then he will rescue her from her enemies and give her victory because though she rejected him, yet the LORD longs to be gracious to her and to show his compassion [30.18]. God says, “Blessed are all who wait for him.”
Sometimes, when we are faced with difficulties and problems in life, we tend to depend upon human help. We may not pray fervently and seek the help and will of the LORD. But human help can crumble at any time because it may be convenient. They may not be able or available to come to our rescue in real time of our need. Also, humans do not know the whole picture as the LORD does. Therefore, they can mislead us.
But the LORD is omniscient and omnipotent. He is always with us, to the ends of the world and till the world comes to an end. He is a faithful and truthful God. Sole sovereignty and authority over the entire creation belong to him because he is the Creator. He can make impossible things possible. Billy Sunday rightly says, “God delights in impossibility. Everything is possible with him.” If we trust in him, he will never disappoint us but save us and fill our hearts with his rest, peace, and assurance. Therefore, it is always right to rely upon the LORD. Let us first go to the LORD and ask his help when we are faced with anything impossible in life.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to rely on you and not on human help. AMEN.
RESURRECTION AND RESPONSIBILITY
This is a prayer by God’s people while going through troubles and afflictions in a foreign land. This is the period of Assyrian oppression as Shalmaneser V took Israel into exile [2 Kgs. 17]. The acute suffering of the faithful people of God in exile is described in terms of a woman in labor who writhes in pain. Israel experienced the writhing pain but delivered nothing. Israel was chosen to be a light for the Gentiles and bring God’s salvation to the world [Isa. 42.6; 46.9]. But they were not able to deliver God’s light to the nations [v.18]. And now they are in the need of urgent help from the Lord for deliverance because they are unable to deliver themselves from the oppression of Assyria. They depend only on the intervention of God because of his grace and mercy.
Therefore, they have hope amid the hopeless situation. In v. 19, Isaiah talks about the resurrection. The exile and the affliction associated with it are like a death blow. It is like dwelling in the dust in utter humiliation. But God will intervene and bring new life to them. Then they will rise from the humiliation of exile and return to their homeland. This concept is more vividly described in Ezekiel Ch. 37 in his vision of the valley of dry bones. God says to his people in exile, “Dry bones, … I will make breath enter you and you will come to life” [v. 4], and “O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD” [v. 12].
For us who are in Jesus Christ, it is about the bodily resurrection mentioned in 1 Cor. 15; 1 Thes. 4, etc. There is a sure hope beyond the grave. No matter how much suffering, afflictions, and humiliation we go through in this world and ultimately succumb to death, there is a resurrection waiting for us on the other side of the grave. We will be resurrected from the dust of the earth and given glorious, eternal, and heavenly bodies. In the resurrection, we will sing praises to the Lord for eternity. This blessing of our resurrection and eternal rejoicing are made possible because of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
However, while enjoying this eternal hope, we must not forget an important aspect before our death on earth and resurrection for the heavens. Like Israel, we are called to be a light to the world and bring the salvation of the Lord to man. Israel was chosen to do so but Israel failed. Now we, the church, cannot afford to violate God’s trust in us. It is the commission our Lord himself has assigned to us. He says, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” [Mk. 16.15]. Therefore, Apostle Paul says, “I am compelled to preach the gospel. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” [1 Cor. 9.16].
The assurance of resurrection gives us the strength to face all the hardships of life with patience. It also reminds us of our responsibility and privilege to bring the light of Jesus to humanity dwelling in the darkness of sin and death.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to go through life with an assurance of resurrection and share the good news of Jesus with our fellow man. AMEN
ESCHATOLOGICAL FEAST AND VICTORY
This passage is part of the Isaianic Apocalypse (Isaiah 24-27). After describing the devastation of the earth in Ch. 24, Isaiah abruptly shifts our attention to a blessed and joyful eschatological feast in this passage. In this feast, Isaiah foresees the final redemption of God’s people after God’s victory over the cosmic forces of chaos. It will be followed by the celebration of God’s salvation with a glorious banquet of the choicest and most luxurious foods and aged wines upon Mount Zion. There will be great joy and fellowship among God’s people.
In v. 7, Isaiah gives a significant reason for the great rejoicing. He talks about a shroud that enfolds all people of all nations. It is a shroud of death, a sheet that covers all nations. In Rom. 5:12 Paul says, “death came to all people because all sinned.” This is not just physical death but eternal death. Man is cut off from God forever.
But this shroud is swallowed up forever. This victory over death is made possible by Jesus Christ. 1 Cor. 15.54 says, “Death has been swallowed up in victory” through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now there is no fear of death for those whose sins are forgiven. This salvation from death is the work of the Lord. Only when we believe in his Son Jesus Christ we can be delivered from sin and death [v. 9].
This victory and celebration indicate that even though the redeemed people might have troubles and devastation in the present, there is an eschatological hope of rejoicing and fellowship with God. They can be assured that they will have eternal rejoicing in the presence of God on Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem [Heb. 12:22]. This hope is described in the song of praise and rejoicing in Isa. 25.1-5.
The great rejoicing is for all, Jews and Gentiles, who believe in God and his Son Jesus. As we reflect on this passage during the Lenten Season, we are reminded of the ultimate feast that God has prepared for us with his Lamb, Jesus. In Rev. 19.4-8, the wedding of the Lamb and his bride, the church, and the Lamb’s wedding supper is described. We, who belong to Jesus and are saved from the shroud of death, will participate in the supper with great rejoicing.
Let us reflect on our own mortality and Jesus’ victory over sin and death, and let us take comfort in the promise of this passage and the hope it offers. As we journey through Lent, let us hold fast to the hope and promise of Isa. 25.6-9 and trust in God’s love and provision for us. Let us look forward with joy to the ultimate feast that awaits us.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to look forward to the wedding feast of the Lamb and go through life with hope and rejoicing. AMEN
THE REIGN OF THE LORD
In Isa. 24.1-20, Isaiah presents a devastating picture of the earth. It is the LORD himself who will lay waste the earth and devastate it [v. 1]. It will dry up, be totally plundered, withered, languished, and consumed by a curse. It will lie in ruins and desolation. “The earth is broken up, split asunder, thoroughly shaken, and reels like a drunkard” [v.20]. The people of the earth themselves defiled the earth and brought her into this devastating condition.
Today, Isaiah’s prophecy is coming true. Because of the sins and blunders of man, the earth and all its flora and fauna are being defiled, devastated, and destroyed. The number of earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, thunderstorms, etc., is increasing due to global warming, excessive and greedy fracking, wars, and uncontrolled emissions of smoke into the environment.
The earth is breaking up due to the wickedness, selfishness, and recklessness of man. Isaiah says, “So heavy upon it is the guilt of its rebellion that it falls – never to rise again” [Isa. 24:20]. The people of the earth are under the authority of the principalities and powers of darkness. People dance to their tune and indulge in sin. There seems to be no hope for the restoration of the earth and its original glory.
But beginning from v. 21, we see a hope of deliverance, righteousness, and eternal joy. Satan, his army of wicked angels, and the principalities and powers of darkness will be destroyed. We can see that in Rev. 19-20. The kings who will rise against the Lord will be destroyed by Jesus and his heavenly army. They all will be bound and thrown in the fiery lack of burning sulfur [Rev. 19.19-21; 20.10, cf. Isa. 24.22]. No one will be able to stand against the power of the LORD. Man will be set free from their clutches.
Then, the LORD of hosts will reign on earth from Mt. Zion with his faithful ones. From God’s side, this reign is already accomplished as described in Rev. 19-22. Our God knows the end from the beginning [Isa. 46.10]. So, in his foreknowledge, he has described the end for us as a future. In 2 Pet. 3.8-9, Peter says, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise.” He will fulfill his words by all means and at any cost.
Therefore, during the Lenten season, let us pray for the redemption of the earth and its people by the second coming of Jesus Christ. Let us pray that Jesus will come soon and establish his righteous kingdom of joy, peace, and blessings.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, in this world filled with man’s wickedness and selfishness, help us to live with the hope to be in your righteous kingdom. AMEN.
GOD’S UNCHANGEABLE PLANS
In this passage, an eternal truth is expressed that God’s plans will certainly come to pass. The thought is repeated in synonymous parallelism [see footnote] which means that there is an emphasis on this thought.
Here, Isaiah is talking about God’s plan to crush Assyrians in Israel and deliver his people from slavery of Assyria. Again, both thoughts are expressed by repeating them in synonymous parallelism [v. 25].
This plan was fulfilled when God destroyed the entire Assyrian army when they surrounded Jerusalem on the mountain of Israel. God sent his angel and killed one hundred and eighty-five thousand army men on his mountain in one night. The Assyrian siege was broken. They left Jerusalem to go back to Assyria where the king was assassinated. God’s plan for a nation came to pass in detail.
Then, Isaiah also predicts that God has a larger plan which is determined for the whole world [v. 26]. This plan is concerning all nations. Isaiah does not specify the plan. However, we know from Genesis Ch. 1 that God planned a blessed and utopian kingdom on earth. That plan was frustrated because man succumbed to Satan’s temptation. By rebelling against God, man became a sinner and disloyal to God. God’s plan was disrupted.
However, God sent his own Son, Jesus into the world and through his life, death, and resurrection made a way to fulfill his plan of establishing the blessed kingdom on earth for humanity believing in Jesus Christ. We see the eschatological fulfillment of that Kingdom by Jesus in Revelation Chs. 19-22. So, God has a good plan for the whole world and he will fulfill it at any cost. Nothing could refrain God from fulfilling his plans. Psalm 33:11 says, “The plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations” [See also, Isa. 48.3]
At the same time, God also has plans for our individual lives. God says to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you” [ Jer. 1.5]. God also says to him, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you … give you hope and future” [Jer. 29.11]. And these words of God are true for all of us because, in Mt. 10.30, Jesus says, “Even the hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not be afraid.” So, let us trust God and accept his plans for our individual lives and the whole world and live in peace with God and each other.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to know and accept your unchangeable plans for us and live a life of peace and joy. AMEN.
Synonymous parallelism is a poetic literary device. It involves the repetition in the second part of what has already been expressed in the first, by using different words with the same meaning. Thus, emphasizing the stated idea in a verse.
E.g., in v. 24 I have planned so it will be [1st line]
I have purposed so it will stand [2nd line]
In this verse, ‘planned’ and ‘purposed,’ and ‘will be’ and ‘will stand’ are in parallelism.
PRIDE OF PERSECUTORS PUNISHED
God not only punishes the pride of his people, but he also punishes the pride of the nations who persecute his people. God gave victory to the king of Assyria over Israel and delivered his people in his hands because of their disobedience. God used Assyria as a rod of his anger to “finish all his work against Mount Zion and Jerusalem” [vv. 5-12]. The work was to purge them from their disobedience.
But the God-given victory made the Assyrian king very arrogant. He overstepped his commission and planned to destroy Israel and many nations. He boasted about his strength and wisdom by which he plundered the treasures of the nations and removed their boundaries. It was like the axe raising itself above him who swings it and a rod wielding itself against him who lifts it [v.15]. He started boasting against the One who used him for his purpose.
Therefore, the YHWH of hosts, the Holy One of Israel became a blazing fire and consumed them by sending a wasting disease upon his warriors. It is recorded in Isa. 37.36 that in one night the angel of the LORD put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian army. When the king of Assyria returned to his land, his own sons Adrammelech and Sharezer cut him down with a sword. God dealt with Babylon, Moab, Damascus, Cush, Egypt, etc. in a similar manner [Chs. 13-21].
God’s people are like the apple of his eye [Zech. 2.8]. He might use various powers to bring trouble and even persecution to discipline and remove their disobedience although he still loves them dearly. When those powers overstep their task of persecuting his people, God knows how to deliver his people from oppression and restore them to peace and prosperity. This happened with the people of Israel. After their punishment was over, God brought them back to his land beginning in 540 B.C.
We too, either as an individual or the body of Jesus Christ, might face troubles and even persecution in various ways. Sometimes, God uses that persecution to strengthen us in our faith and help us grow in our loyalty to him. We must go through those rough patches with patience, trusting God that he is at work in us helping us to grow and become stronger in him. At the same time, let us be assured that in his time, God will take care of those hostile powers who come against his people to destroy them. The Lord is a righteous judge. Let him take care of our persecutors. Let us pray that in all circumstances, God’s will be done in our lives.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to believe that you allow adverse circumstances to help us become more loyal to you and that you will take care of the persecutors. AMEN.
From the eschatological scenario of Child-Son, defined by his divine-human titles and his kingdom of righteousness and peace in vv. 1-7, now the scenario abruptly shifts to the present condition of the Lord’s anger against the pride and arrogance of his people, Israel.
This current condition of their pride and arrogance can be seen from Isa. 2.12-17; 3:12-16, and also from 9.9-10 here. They even made unjust laws to oppress their own helpless people and deprived them of their rights [Isa. 10:1-2]. Therefore, the Lord brought Israel’s enemies to punish their pride. But they were stubborn and inspite of the Lord striking them, they still did not return to him [v. 13]. So, the Lord further punished them by striking their wicked leaders [v. 14] and consuming them as fuel for the fire in his blazing wrath. So much so, that “each one of them will feed on the flesh of their own children” [v.20]. Then, the Lord brought the king of Assyria to displace them from Israel and take them as captives to Assyria. The pride of God’s people was punished severely.
There is a lesson to learn for us from this narrative. The Lord always hates pride and arrogance on the part of his people. When God’s archangel, the anointed guardian cherub became proud and wanted to be like God in heaven, God punished him by expelling him in disgrace from his heavenly place [Ezk. 28.14-16; Isa. 14.12-15]. Since then, that archangel who became Satan and a perennial adversary of God tempts God’s people with pride and arrogance. The history of the world and the Bible is filled with innumerous examples of people who suffered a great deal of destruction because of their pride.
Satan even tried it on Jesus by tempting him with pride three times [Mat. 4]. But Jesus never succumbed to his temptations because of his knowledge of the Word of God, total obedience to the Word of God and his humility to the point of death on the cross. God the Holy Spirit instructs us in 1 Pet. 5:5-6, “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”
Our Lord Jesus gave a perfect example of such humility through his life. “He humbled himself and became obedient to death … Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name” [Phil. 2.8-9]. During this Lenten Season, let us think about any pride or arrogance that might have taken place in our hearts. Let us guard ourselves against Satan’s pride and arrogance and let us live in humility and harmony for the glory of God and the wellbeing of the body of Jesus Christ.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to be aware of the tendency of being proud and arrogant, and help us to serve you and each other with humility of heart. AMEN.
PRINCE OF PEACE
The fourth title given to the Child-Son is “Prince of Peace.” As a Prince, the son of a king brings about peace to his people by subduing their enemies. This title applies to Jesus as it states in Acts 5:31, “God exalted him to his own right hand as ‘Prince’ and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.” As the Son of the universal King, Jesus is the ‘Prince’ of Peace.
Jesus made a provision for man to repent and be forgiven of their sins. These sins hinder their right relationship with God. Rom. 5:10 states that as sinners we rebelled against God and became his enemies. Our sins became an obstacle between us and God. Therefore, as enemies, we were at war with God [Rom. 8:7]. There was no condition of peace with God. And so, there was no feeling of peace in our hearts. Because of our sins, we do not have peace with our fellow man also.
However, when we believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior and repent of our sins, he removes our sins by forgiving them and reconciling us with God. The cause of hostility towards God is removed. Therefore, we are reconciled with God, and we have the condition of peace with God [Rom 5.2, 10]. It is like two warring nations declaring a peace treaty. Then, because of the condition of peace, there is a feeling of peace and safety in the hearts of the people of both nations. The condition of war has come to an end.
Similarly, when our hostility with God comes to an end because of our repentance and reconciliation, we have peace with God. Then, we have a feeling of peace in our hearts because his peace flows in our hearts. He gives his peace to us [Jn. 14.27]. Then, we can also live in peace with our fellow man. All this is made possible by the Prince, Jesus Christ, through his sacrifice on the cross. Therefore, he alone is the Prince of Peace.
We live in this world surrounded by troubles and temptations. Many times, we lose our peace of heart because of them. But in those circumstances, let us fix our eyes on the Prince of Peace who has promised to give us his peace. Then our hearts will not be troubled in those times, and we will not be afraid [Jn. 14:27b]. Jesus says in Jn 14:27. “Peace, I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Again, he says in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to rely on the Prince of Peace in times of trouble and temptations and enjoy his peace in all circumstances. AMEN.
FATHER OF ETERNITY
The third of the 4 names in v. 6 is the Hebrew noun ’ă·ḇî·‘aḏ. This is a compound noun consisting of two terms, ’ă·ḇî which means father and ‘aḏ which means perpetuity without end, hence eternity. Thus, the Child-Son is Father of Eternity which means his existence is for eternity as a Father. Earlier we saw that only Jesus is the eternal Child-Son and there is no other. The Son of God, Jesus is without the beginning of days or end of life, and he remains a priest forever [Heb. 5.6, 7.3]. We find a witness to his eternal existence in Rev. 1.8, 17; Col. 1.17; Jn. 8.58 and other texts in the Bible.
So, for eternity he is a “Father.” The concept of a ruler as a father comes from the earliest Sumerian culture [See footnote]. The Sumerian kings were considered shepherds. Urukagina, Lugalbanda, Etana, etc. wore shepherds’ hats as crowns to show that they were responsible for the welfare, provision, protection, and security of their subjects as shepherds. This concept was adopted in most cultures that followed. The basic concept was that the shepherd-king would take good care of his subjects like a father who takes good care of his own family by providing the above things. So, kings and rulers were also considered fathers looking after the welfare of their subjects.
In this way, the Child-Son is a Father. He says in John 10.30, “I and the Father are one” and in Jn. 14.9, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” He is fatherly in his treatment of his family members who believe in him and accept his rule. He loves his subjects as his children [Jn. 1.12-13]. He gives provision, protection, and security to them like a good Shepherd-Father. Jesus does this by giving them eternal life and being with them always. Being himself eternal, he is a “fatherly Ruler” for eternity. 2 Sam. 7.16 states that the Son of David is the only human ruler who will rule on the throne of David “forever.” He will rule over His people with fatherly concern for their total welfare.
Therefore, it is our privilege to give ourselves under the eternal Fatherhood of the Child-Son, Jesus Christ. Once we are in his family by believing in him as our Lord and Savior, we have a right to be in the family of the living God and to enjoy all the provision, protection, and security for eternity. The assurance of eternal security brings real joy, peace, and blessings to our hearts and helps us go through the thick and thin of life with perseverance and patience like Job. James 5.11 says, “We consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of fatherly compassion and mercy.”
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to enjoy the eternal privileges of our Lord Jesus Christ. AMEN.
Sumerians were the first known culture in the world. They lived in the southern part of Mesopotamia between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers and flourished between c. 4000-1700 B.C. It was the southern part of present-day Iraq. Many artifacts of their skills in farming, engineering, literature, etc. are excavated.
The Child-Son who brings about light in the darkness, life in death, and the kingdom of peace and righteousness [v. 7], is a Mighty God, ’êl gib·bō·wr. This is not just an epithet but the identity of his being. He is Immanu-el which means God is with us. Here in v. 6, Isaiah uses the Hebrew word El for God instead of Elohim. Ellicott asserts that Elohim may be used in a lower sense for representatives of God [e.g., Exodus 7.1; 1 Samuel 28.13; Psalm 82.6], but El, is not used by Isaiah, or any other writer, in any lower sense than that of absolute Deity.
In Isaiah 7.14, the virgin-born child is a portent of God’s presence with his people. But in the New Testament, God himself came to dwell amongst us in the Child-Son, Jesus. John 1:18 states, “No one has ever seen God, but the only begotten God [monogenes Theos] the one being in the bosom of the Father has made him known.” Jn. 1.1 states, “the Word was God.” Paul states in Phil. 2.6 that Jesus existed in the form of God … but emptied himself, taking the form of a human servant. John 10:30 states, “The Father and I are one.” Paul states in Phil. 2.5-6 “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God.” Col. 2.9-10 states, “For in him the whole fullness of Godhead dwells bodily.” So, the Child-Son is God.
At the same time, he is the “Mighty” God, the God of absolute might and power. These attributes are seen in his act of creation ex-nihio [out of nothing]. He created the whole creation by his word [John 1.1-3, cf. Genesis 1.3, 6, 9, etc.; Romans 1.20]. His power can be seen in the creation of humans in his image and in their destruction by a mighty flood when they indulged in sin. Before him, the most powerful nations are like a drop in a bucket and dust on the scales [Isa. 40.17]. The mighty rulers are like chaff before the whirlwind [Isa. 40.24]. He created the heavens and “he brings out the starry host one by one calling them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing” [Isa. 40.26].
His might and power can be seen from his victory over man’s perennial and formidable enemies, sin, Satan, self, and death. He conquered them through his sinless life, substitutionary death on the cross, and resurrection.
Because Jesus is the Mighty God, we can lean on him without reservation. We can receive might and power from him by being in the right relationship with him. He will never disappoint us as he is able to perform mighty acts for us. Not only that but he has given us his authority and power to perform mighty acts [Lk 9.1-2, 10.19; Mt. 10.1]. Let us exercise them and glorify the name of the Mighty God, our Lord Jesus Christ. For Jesus is Almighty God as mentioned in Rev. 1.8, “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’”
PRAYER. Heavenly Father, help us to believe in Jesus, the Mighty God and perform mighty acts with his might and authority. AMEN
THE WONDER PERSON
In ancient Semitic culture, a person’s name expressed the nature and character of his being. Here, 4 names are mentioned for the Child-Son, the Messiah. Isaiah mentions the first one by saying that his name will be called a wonder, who will counsel [see footnote]. Jesus was no less than a wonder in himself. His conception, birth, miracles, suffering, death, and resurrection pointed to him as a wonder figure. People marveled at his teaching [Mk1.22], At the same time, even though he is a very God of very God, he went through all the thin and thick of life as a normal human being. So, he knows our joys and sorrows, struggles and temptations, stress and tensions, and every situation. What he has gone through and what he has done for humanity by being a perfect man must fill our hearts with wonder.
Therefore, he can render the best and most appropriate counsel for our good in every situation. Matthew Henry correctly says that Jesus was intimately acquainted with the counsels of God from eternity, and he gives counsel to man, in which he consults our welfare. It is by him that God has given us counsel [Ps 16:7; Rev. 3:18]. Jesus says in John Chs. 15-16 that he will send the Counselor, the Spirit of Truth who goes out from the Father. And when the Spirit comes, he will guide us into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears from the Lord, he will speak and declare to us the things that are to come.
Thus, this wonder person, Jesus counsels us and advises us by being within us through God the Holy Spirit [Jn. 14:17; 2 Tim. 1:14]. His counseling is truthful because he says, “I AM the truth.” And he is the absolute truth. There is no falsehood in him. He knows what is eternally right, just, and fair in the eyes of his Heavenly Father. Therefore, he always guides and counsels us in the right and just paths. We can rely upon his counsel without any apprehension, fear, or hesitation.
Especially, when we are in an enigmatic situation and do not know which direction to pursue, we must go to Jesus and seek his counsel. For making various choices under adverse circumstances, it is Jesus who comes to our rescue and counsels us through the Holy Spirit in the right direction. Even when we sin, Jesus does not abandon us but brings us back on the path of righteousness by providing divine counsel out of his love for us. He always means good to us. Let us always depend upon the divine counsel of the “wonder Person,” our Lord Jesus Christ.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to always rely on the counsel of the wonder person, Jesus Christ in all circumstances. AMEN
The term “wonder” is a noun with a disjunctive accent in Hebrew text [see Strong’s 6382]. The following term “counselor” is a participle. So, the correct rendering of the Hebrew text would be “his name will be called a wonder, who will counsel/be a counselor.”
The light for people sitting in darkness and shadow of death will be brought about by the birth of a child, a Son who will shatter the yoke of oppression. God’s promise is not merely ideological or philosophical. It is to be realized in the empirical incarnation.
This is not an ordinary child-Son because he will shoulder the government. He is a royal person, a virgin-born son, Immanuel, promised to the royal house in Isa. 7. In the child Immanuel, God is with us. Thus, he is a divine person.
His divinity can be noticed in the titles given to him; “Wonderful Counsellor,” “Mighty God,” “Everlasting Father,” and “Prince of Peace.” At the same time, he is ‘born’ to a woman. This indicates that he is a human being in the likeness of man [Phil. 2:7]. There has been only one person, Jesus Christ who is “very God of very God; begotten as man and not made” [Nicene Creed]. Oswalt correctly asserts that this ruler will not merely be divine, but although partaking of the divine attributes, will have the most human of all arrivals upon the earth, namely, birth. If Jesus were not fully human, he could not stand in the place of man and be a substitute for the punishment man deserves.
This is the message we need to ponder upon during the Lenten Season. To deliver humanity sitting in darkness and shadow of eternal death, the very God of very God became the very man of very man. He relinquished his divine prerogatives, pomp, glory, majesty, and worship of supernatural angelic beings. He was conceived and grew in his human mother Mary’s womb and was born as a normal human being. The Creator of the universe lived as a human creature experiencing all sufferings, insults, temptations, and pain of humanity [Heb 4.15]. Then, “he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace” [Isa. 53.5]. Ultimately, carrying our sins upon himself, he died in our place on the cross.
Jesus did this incredible act for us because he considered us better than his divine prerogatives. This fact must fill our hearts with gratitude and humility, encourage us to consider others better than ourselves, and drive us to go to the people sitting in the darkness and in the shadow of death to share the good news of deliverance by the God-Man, Jesus. As Paul says in Rom. 1:14, we are under obligation to God and humanity to share the good news. And so, let us always remember the Act of Jesus and faithfully fulfill his commission.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to be grateful to Jesus for his act of our deliverance and follow him faithfully. AMEN.
FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT
The unfaithfulness and disbelief of the wicked king Ahaz and the Judahites plunged the nation into darkness. God brought the Assyrian king Tiglath Pileser III upon his people [see 2 Kgs.15.29] in 734-732 B.C. During the Assyrian invasion, the northwest part of Israel, i.e. Naphtali, Zebulun, and Galilee suffered a great deal. It was as disoriented and agonizing as living in utter darkness. This darkness is indicative of the darkness over humanity because of their sinfulness and unfaithfulness to the Lord. People were groping in darkness and sitting in the land of the shadow of death. There was no hope.
But human unfaithfulness cannot nullify divine faithfulness. 2 Tim. 2:13 says, “If we are faithless, he remains faithful” and Apostle Paul asks a rhetorical question, in Rom. 3.3 “What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness?” And the answer is an emphatic ‘No.” As an integral and inherent part of God’s nature, his faithfulness is eternal and unchangeable. Despite human failure and unfaithfulness, God’s faithfulness continues to flow throughout eternity.
Therefore, into the helplessness of the darkness, God would, through the coming King, will shine the light of his own delivering power [Oswalt]. When humanity was in darkness, suffering from the invasion of sin, Satan, and death, Jesus the Immanuel, came to be the “great light” on those “living in the land of the shadow of death” due to their rebellion against the Lord [v. 2, cf. Jn. 1:5a]. Through him, the eternal joy of salvation sweeps over the people because the yoke of oppression of sin and Satan is shattered by the cross of “the child” born into the world. Rom. 6:6-9 says, “We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives … Death no longer has any power over him” and all those who are in him.
Jesus conquered the darkness with his light and commanded us to be the light. Jesus made seven “I am” claims for himself [the bread of life (6:35), the light of the world (8:12), the door (10:7), the good shepherd (10:11, 14), the resurrection and the life (11:25), the way the truth and the life (14:6) and the true vine (15:1). Out of the seven claims, Jesus ascribed only one to his followers, saying, “You are the light of the world.” So now, it is our privilege and responsibility to bring the Light into human hearts by being a light through our lives, words, and works faithfully.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to receive the light of Jesus in us and become the light to the world. AMEN
SANCTUARY OR STUMBLING STONE
Aram and Israel attacked Judah [Isa. 7]. From Isaiah 8:6, it can be perceived that there was also a party inside Judah that was sympathetic to the attackers and conspired against their own king Ahaz and fellow countrymen. Thus, Ahaz was faced with an attack from outsiders and insiders.
During this time, God asked Isaiah and the faithful ones not to fear the attackers and conspirators but to fear him by regarding him as the Holy One. The Holy One is the King of the whole creation, enclothed with sole sovereignty, matchless majesty, absolute authority, and complete supremacy, having an eternal, immeasurable, insurmountable, and unimaginable existence [see footnote]. Before this “high and exalted One” and the “Lord of hosts,” the nations are like a drop from a bucket and mere dust [Isa. 40:15]. Their kings are like smoldering firebrands [Isa. 7:4]. God could take care of them easily if his people believed in him.
Even today, God’s people may face similar situations. Sometimes, Satan can use outsiders to attack and persecute us. And sometimes he can use even our own brethren, friends, colleagues, family members like he used Peter and Judas Iscariot. But in every circumstance, if we regard God as the Holy One, we will have no fear of any outsiders’ attack or insiders’ conspiracy. The Holy One is able to take care of us if our hearts are set on him. Deut. 31:6 says, “Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, the nations, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” He will become a safe sanctuary for those who believe in him.
At the same time, Isaiah warns God’s people that if they do not believe in the Holy One, he will become a stone of stumbling for them. They will stumble, fall, and be shattered by him [vv. 14-15]. Therefore, let us be careful as to how we regard God, the Holy One in the time of our crisis, either believing in him or rejecting him. We will receive our rewards depending on our response to the Holy One.
This is clearly stated in 1 Peter 2:7-9 for Jesus, “To you who believe this stone, Jesus, is precious. But to those who do not believe, … he becomes a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense. They stumble because they disobey the word.”
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me to fear you and regard you as the Holy One in times of trouble and be delivered from all our fears. Amen.
The Hebrew root q-d-Ṣ (holy) is to be construed as an adjectival substantive “Holy One” (see, 10.17; 40.25) [See my dissertation, The Lexical and Theological Significance of the root q-d-sh (holy) in the Book of Isaiah, 1998, pp. 154ff], at Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, TX. In Isa. 8:13, the causative hiphil form of the verb q-d-Ṣ allows us to construe it as the Holy One.
GOD IS WITH US – II
The famous Immanuel prophecy is mentioned in Isa. 7.14, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel.” This sign name means “God is with us.” The immediate context of this prophecy is the Syro-Ephraimite war. Two powerful enemies, Syria and Israel, attacked Ahaz and Judah to destroy them [see footnote]. The Judahites were trembling with fear because they were powerless against their enemies.
However, the unusual sign of the birth of Immanuel was an indication that the presence of the Sovereign and Omniscient God was amidst his people. If they believed in him, he would destroy the enemies, deliver them, and establish them in his land. The prophecy is also a rebuke to Ahaz and unbelieving people as they will reap the adverse consequences of their rejection of God.
The ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy mentioned in Mat. 1:23, is found in Jesus, the Messiah. When man was under attack from the formidable powers of sin, Satan, and death, powerless to deliver himself, and heading toward eternal destruction, God himself came to be with him in Jesus Christ.
As a sinless, blameless, and perfect lamb of God, Jesus conquered the three enemies through his death on the cross and his resurrection. That way, he made a provision for man to be delivered from the power of sin, Satan, and death, and be in God’s eternal kingdom. The condition is to believe in Jesus as the Savior and Lord of our life. In 2 Cor 6.2, Paul says, “now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” So, let us believe in Jesus now, if we have not done so and make him the Lord of our life.
“Then God is with us, through every action of our life, that we begin, continue, and end in his name. He is God with us, to comfort, enlighten, protect, and defend us, in every time of temptation and trial, in the hour of death, in the day of judgment; and God is with us and in us, and we with and in him, to all eternity” (Clarke). So, let Jesus be in us and we be in Jesus.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me to believe in Jesus, be delivered from the enemies, and experience your presence, peace, and protection in my life. AMEN
The attack on Judah was destructive. Pekah’s army killed one hundred and twenty thousand in Judah in one day and carried away a great multitude as captives [2 Chr. 28:5-6]. The King of Israel captured 200,000 men, women, and children from Judah [2 Chr. 28:8-15].
GOD IS WITH US
Rezin of Aram and Pekah of Israel were tributary kings to the Assyrian empire. They attacked king Ahaz of Judah with a plot to conquer Judah and replace Ahaz with a gentile son of Tabeel so that Judah would join their coalition. Ahaz and Judahites were filled with fear and their hearts were shaken “as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind.” This attack is called the Syro-Ephraimite crisis.
At this critical juncture, the LORD sent his prophet Isaiah to Ahaz with an assurance that the two attacking kings are like smoldering firebrands. He will take care of them and deliver Ahaz and Judah by destroying the two attackers. The only condition for Ahaz was not to be afraid but to trust and obey the LORD.
However, since Ahaz had made a pact with the human superpower Assyria, he refused to trust the LORD or even ask for a sign for his assurance of deliverance. Therefore, the LORD himself gave him a sign of a virgin-born son Immanuel, and according to his promise in v. 8, destroyed the two kingdoms, Aram and Israel.
From the above incident, the people of the LORD must learn a great lesson. There are times in our lives when we are under attack by various people, Satanic forces, or even pressing circumstances. At times, these attacks are of such a high magnitude that we are afraid of our existence. However, the LORD is able to deal with them and deliver us when we trust him without apprehension and obey him completely. No adverse element is too hard for God to take care of. The name Immanuel itself means God is with us.
Even though Ahaz became unfaithful to the LORD by refusing to trust him, the LORD was faithful in delivering his people according to his promise. The doom of the two nations, Aram and Israel, was predicted in c. 735 B.C. [v. 8]. According to God’s promise in v. 8, in sixty-five years by 670 B.C., the Assyrian king destroyed the two nations.
Even though God’s people are unfaithful, the LORD is always faithful to his promises and plans. 2 Tim. 2:13 says, “If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.” He will fulfill his promises at any cost. It is our privilege to trust him and work with him to further his cause and glorify his name. Let us faithfully do so by using our talents for him to the best of our ability.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, in our adverse times, help us to trust you, obey you, and work for you faithfully. AMEN
THE CLEANSING OF THE PROPHET
In his vision of the Holy One, enthroned, exalted, and worshipped by supernatural angelic beings, Isaiah was transported into God’s heavenly court [cf. 1 Kgs 22.19; Rev. 4:1-8]. He had an encounter with the LORD whose sovereignty extends over the entire creation.
In the awesome presence of the enthroned LORD, Isaiah realized his nothingness. Isaiah, who pronounced woes upon others [5:8, 11, 18, 20, 21] was now pronouncing woe upon himself. Oswalt correctly says, “For the finite, the mortal, the incomplete, and the fallible to encounter the Infinite, the Eternal, the Self-consistent, and the Infallible is to know the futility and the hopelessness of one’s existence.”
This kind of encounter is necessary for the people of God to realize the unique privilege of belonging to the Holy One despite their nothingness. Our human tendency is to compare ourselves with other humans and consider ourselves of great significance. Some of us even consider ourselves indispensable. But only when we come in the awesome presence of the exalted Lord and behold him as the divine and universal King, do we realize our nothingness and serve him with utter humility.
In his encounter with the enthroned Holy One, Isaiah not only realized his nothingness but also his uncleanness. He cried out, “Woe to me! For I am a man of unclean lips.” Lips are part of the mouth with which we express the words that come from the fullness of the heart [Mt. 6.45], our inner being. So, by the symbolic cleansing of the lips with the live coal, Isaiah’s heart was cleansed from his uncleanness.
This is what the presence of God does to his people. Only when we enter God’s awesome presence, do we realize our uncleanness and the need for cleansing. Isaiah was God’s prophet and proclaimed God’s message to his people. Yet he needed to be cleansed to continue with the mission and ministry of the Lord. Likewise, God’s people must enter his awesome presence, behold his majesty, and realize their uncleanness. Then only they would be cleansed and ready to serve him with undivided and utter loyalty.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to be cleansed from our uncleanness by being in your awesome presence and be used for your mission. AMEN
THE VISION OF THE LORD
Here, Isaiah describes his vision of the exalted Holy One, the universal King. He is being worshipped by the supernatural angelic beings who correspond to the “living creatures” of Rev. 4:6-9. The King is so glorious and majestic that even the flying and fiery angelic beings, the seraphs, were not able to look upon him and covered their faces with their two wings.
The time of the vision was after the death of king Uzziah. He was an efficient administrator and a powerful military leader. By his valiant army with ‘machines,’ he subdued Israel’s enemies [2 Chr. 26:6-15] and expanded his territory. Judah focused her hopes on him. But with his death, Isaiah and the Judahites had a valid reason to be discouraged and disillusioned. They were fear-stricken and concerned for their safety, especially in the wake of the resurgence of the superpower, Assyria in the north.
In such a critical time, the vision of the highly exalted Holy One, the Sovereign One over heaven and the “whole earth” would bring hope, encouragement, and reassurance in the hearts of Isaiah and his people. No matter how great human powers were to rise against Judah and even though the human king was not there to protect them, as long as the LORD is on the throne, there was no need to be concerned. They rest assured that the LORD Almighty will intervene and take good care of his chosen people.
This vision of YHWH with sovereignty over the whole creation conveys a great message to his people. Sometimes, the human powers upon whom we rely for help may be unavailable and untrustworthy. We are left alone in a pressing situation against powerful enemies. But the King of kings and the Lord of lords is on his everlasting throne ruling over all supernatural and human powers. He is with us. In Rom. 8.31, Paul asks, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” No one can be against us. Even the entire army of the Evil one will not frustrate or deter us. We will be more than conquerors [Rom. 8:31-39]. The Lord is the absolute overlord of the earth and has complete sovereignty over the whole creation. With that God on our side and his Son Jesus with us through God the Holy Spirit, we are more than conquerors. Let us fix our gaze upon the enthroned Holy One and the fears and things of the world will grow dim in his light.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to rely upon you in all circumstances and at all times to face the thick and thin of life. AMEN
THE BRANCH OF THE LORD
After following a long message of judgment and disaster in 3:1-4:1, Isaiah mentions the oracle of deliverance, blessing, and hope through the Branch of the LORD in this passage. Here, “the Branch of the LORD” is a metaphorical expression of the Messianic title for a descendant of David [cf. 11:1; 53:2]. It is like a new sprout coming forth from a tree cut down and withered. The immediate context is that of the Babylonian captivity of God’s people Israel. They have no hope of returning to promise land. Yet, Isaiah assures that the redeemed community will surely return to their land because of the promise, provision, and power of the Lord. Then they will be glorious and fruitful people of the Lord. He will wash away the guilt of their rebellion, cleanse them, and restore them to himself. He will provide perennial protection to them as he did for forty years in the wilderness and eternal security by being their refuge.
The eschatological implication of this passage is that the Branch of the Lord will be the Messiah, Jesus Christ, in the lineage of David. Many people who live under the captivity of sin will find hope of deliverance and a provision of reconciliation with God in him. Their judgment will be taken away. Their sins will be washed away, and the divine blessing will be bestowed upon them by the power and provision of the Lord through Jesus. There will be a glorious and fruitful eternal life in the presence of the Lord. The Lord himself will become their eternal refuge.
Now, the promise of the Branch of the Lord is realized in Jesus Christ. Today, many people inside and outside the church are living a life of captivity to sin and Satan. Disaster and judgment are looming large over them. There is no hope of a relationship with God because of their rejection of Jesus, the Messiah. The phrase “in that day” in v. 2 is indicative of the last day when those who have believed in Jesus will receive eternal blessings. But those who have rejected Jesus will come under severe judgment and eternal punishment. Romans 1:18 says, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men …”
Therefore, before it is too late, let us surrender our lives to the Branch of the Lord, Jesus Christ, be cleansed of our sins by his blood, and have the assurance of glorious eternal life in the presence of the Lord.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to give our lives to Jesus, be liberated from the captivity of sin and Satan, and have eternal and abundant life. AMEN
TRUST IN THE LORD
Even though the Lord revealed through Isaiah a blessed kingdom to his people, they did not pay attention to it or believed in the Lord. From Isa. 2:6-8, it can be noticed that they rebelled against the Lord by doing three sinful things.
 They trusted the pagan gods, man-made idols, and divination of nations like the Philistines.  They trusted their silver and gold with which they could gain the favor of human powers.  They trusted their military might of chariots and horses instead of the Sovereign LORD. Thus, the people of God became arrogant because of their self-reliance, lofty towers, soaring mountains, fortified walls, high hills, and international maritime trade.
Therefore, the Lord destined a dreadful day in which “the arrogance of man will be brought low, and pride of men humbled” [2.17]. God will destroy their idols. No one will be spared even though they try to run away or hide from the ‘dread of the LORD’ [v. 19].
The LORD will do these things so that he alone will be exalted [vv. 11, 17] and his people will realize the splendor of his majesty. They will realize that the LORD alone is worthy to be exalted because he alone dwells in the splendor of majesty. He has the power “to shake the earth.” In contrast, humans are just “a breath in the nostrils.” Isaiah ends the section by asking a question, “Of what account is he [man]?” The answer is that man is of no account [v.22]. He is mortal, as transitory as a sigh and impermanent as a breath or grass [Psalm 90:3-6].
Therefore, says Isaiah in v. 22, “Stop trusting in man.” Instead, trust in the exalted LORD who alone dwells in the splendor of his majesty. He will bring about the destruction of human powers and help God’s people achieve their glorious destiny. This truth prevails in every age. As it is said in Proverbs 3:5-6, we must trust in the LORD with all our heart and not depend upon our own understanding or resources. Instead, in all our ways if we acknowledge him, then he will make our paths straight and prosperous.
Let us learn to trust the Lord and rely only upon him at all times, for all things, and under all circumstances. He will lead us into the glorious kingdom of the Messiah through all the thick and thin of life and oppression of the human powers.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to trust you alone and not the human powers. Amen.
ESCHATOLOGICAL MESSIANIC KINGDOM
Here, Isaiah perceives in a visionary mode [ḥaza] an ideal state of Jerusalem and God’s people. There is an abrupt shift from the present context of rebellion and judgment in Ch. 1 to the ideal and eschatological kingdom in Ch. 2. Suddenly the focus changes to Israel’s glorious destiny as a lighthouse to the nations for righteousness and peace [John Oswalt, Isaiah]. This shows the Lord’s sovereignty in bringing about the promised Messianic kingdom despite the constant rebellion and unfaithfulness of his people.
As it was seen earlier, the capital of this kingdom will be Jerusalem, the city of God, which is located on Mt. Zion. All nations will walk by its light [Cf., Isa. 2:5b]. The chaos created by rebellion and sinfulness will be reversed and turned into a divine order of blessings, justice, and joy because the creation will be governed by the Law of the Lord implemented from the throne of the Lord in Jerusalem.
Today, the world is filled with enmity, encroachment, wars, exploitation, violence, and destruction. There is no peace on earth. But in the coming eschatological age of Jesus, there will be peace, prosperity, and productivity among the nations. It is correctly asserted that the complete fulfillment of this vision will take place at the second coming of the Son of God but partial fulfillment started at Pentecost [NIV note]. On the day of Pentecost, God the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples to empower them to fulfill Jesus’ commission to go into the whole world and proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God.
The prophetic vision of Isaiah is indeed motivational for God’s people in every age to trust and obey him to be in his eschatological kingdom of righteousness. At the same time, they must be actively engaged in extending that kingdom by helping people of this sinful world to believe in the righteous King, Jesus. That is what Jesus did. He said in his first message in Mark 1:15, “The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mat. 9:35 says, “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom.” In Mat. 13, he gave many parables [soil, weeds, mustard seed, yeast, hidden treasure, merchant, net] expressing the centrality of God’s kingdom in his ministry.
Towards the end of his life on earth, he assigned this responsibility to us. Since only those who believe in Jesus will enter this eternal Kingdom, it is our privilege and bounden duty to preach the good news faithfully to everyone. Prov. 30.11 says, “He that wins souls is wise.” Then we will hear from the Lord, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master” [Mat. 25.21]. So, let us be persistent in our loyalty to the Lord by actively engaging in preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to inherit your blessed kingdom by believing in your Son Jesus as our King and Lord and share the good news of his Kingdom faithfully. Amen.
THE RIGHTEOUS CITY
After condemning the disloyalty and sinfulness of God’s people and inviting them to repent and be obedient, Isaiah describes the current state of Jerusalem as a “harlot’ city which is full of injustice, exploitation, unrighteousness, and sinfulness [1.23-24]. The term City of Jerusalem is used as synecdoche, a part for the whole of God’s people. God tells them that he will thoroughly purge them of their disobedience by subjecting them to cruel exile for 70 years [Jer. 25]. After removing their disobedience and sinfulness through exile, God will bring them back to the land of Israel. Then Jerusalem will become a city of righteousness because of the righteous people who dwell in it.
Michael Chan correctly sums up,
“The city of God will one day be transformed from alloy to pure metal. She will be a holy and magnificent magnet for the nations, but only after a season of judgment and refinement … God must first approach Zion in the form of an enemy before showing himself as the fulfiller of promises.”
After 70 years of exile, God brought his chosen people back to their homeland. But even after their return to Israel, they did not become obedient and righteous people. They again indulged in wickedness, worshiped other gods, and mocked the living God [Ch. 56-57].
From that time until today, Israel has not become a righteous people because of their stubbornness and disobedience. They did not acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah even though he gave them enough evidence of him being the Messiah. They are today a nation that has turned its back to the real Messiah. God’s desire to make Jerusalem a righteous city has not come about.
Now, God’s desire to make Zion a righteous city and Israel a righteous nation will be fulfilled when Jesus the Messiah returns in his glory a second time. He will establish his righteous kingdom with righteous Jerusalem [Zion] as its capital [Isa. 11, cf. Rev. 21-22]. In his government, there will be righteousness, justice, and peace forever.
Everyone, Jews, and Gentiles, who believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior and be loyal to him will be in that kingdom. That is our hope and assurance. So, as we spend time fasting, praying, and meditating on God’s Word during the Lenten Season, let us conduct an audit of ourselves and see where we are in our loyalty to the Lord. Let us open our hearts to the King of righteousness and have the assurance of being in his coming Kingdom of eternal joy, peace, and blessing.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to have the assurance of being the citizen of the coming kingdom of righteousness by believing in Jesus Christ. Amen.
THE HEART RELIGION
Isaiah Chapter 1
Isaiah begins his book by condemning the utter sinfulness and disloyalty of God’s chosen people. By antithetically using the analogy of an ox and a donkey who are loyal to their owners, Isaiah communicates to God’s chosen people that they are worse than these animals by forsaking their Maker, the Holy One.
They not only indulged in sin but became hypocrites. On the one hand, they forsook the LORD, and on the other, they brought sacrifices of fattened animals into his temple and observed all the festivals and rituals. Therefore, God strongly condemns their double standards and views their empty rituals as a “burden” to him. Moreover, their double standards will bring judgment upon them.
But God is a gracious, compassionate, and forgiving Father. He invites them to come and reason with him, return to him with whole hearts, confess their sins, and obey him. Then God would forgive their most heinous sins, purge them from sinfulness, and use them for his purpose.
God is like the father of the prodigal son, always waiting for his creatures to return to him and be restored to him by the forgiveness of their sins.
We may apply this message to ourselves today. Some perform all the rituals, bring tithes and offerings to God’s sanctuary, make notable sacrifices of worship and thanksgiving, offer impressive prayers, use their time, talents, and finances, even preach the gospel, and are involved in various religious activities on regular bases.
However, if their hearts are far from the Lord and they have not believed in his Son, Jesus Christ, as their Lord and Savior, God will not accept such devotion. Mere obedience without faith in the Lord is nothing more than a ritualistic exercise that brings divine judgment. But if we accept God’s invitation to embrace Jesus as our Lord and Savior from our hearts and confess our sins by faith in him, then he will cleanse us from our sins, accept our above activities, and use us for his glory. Obedience from the heart is better than superficial sacrifices and rituals [1 Sam. 15.22].
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to offer ourselves and our sacrifices with a heart that is faithful to you and your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
This year for Lent we will have our devotionals from the book of Isaiah. Among other things, we will also look at the Messiah of Isaiah by looking at the various narratives and allusions about him. In Isaiah, one can see the entire bible as the narratives from the original creation to the new creation and various pictures of the Messiah are stated. Also, as some have observed, the 66 chapters of Isaiah correspond to the 66 books of the Bible [See the footnote]. So, it will be helpful to have our devotionals from Isaiah during the Lenten Season.
To study this book, one needs to discern that Isaiah often makes a sudden transition from the contemporary context to the eschatological context and vice versa. The contemporary scenario is full of frustration, failure, discouragement, judgment, and destruction from God due to the disobedience of his people. But the eschatological scenario is full of blessings, hope, rejoicing, salvation, and eternal life because of the work of the Messiah.
If one is aware of this frequent movement between the two contexts, the message of the prophet Isaiah can be easily understood. And the message is that even though the contemporary situation seems to be unsalvageable, God can still bring about his blessed and utopian kingdom through his Messiah which he planned to establish in Genesis 1. Nothing is impossible for God!
Since the pendulum swings from one scenario to the other, we will have to look at both contexts to understand the person and ministry of the Messiah.
Despite constant adversity, atrocity, and political upheaval in today’s world, Jesus will still establish his righteous, blessed, and utopian kingdom on earth which is described in Rev. 21-22. Sin has caused enormous suffering and pain in our world but if we are faithful and obedient to the Lord amidst the suffering, we will surely inherit the coming blessed kingdom of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to be persistent in our faith in you and obedience to you in this world. Amen.
- Isaiah starts with heaven and earth [1.2]. So does the Bible [Gen. 1.1].
- Isaiah ends with a new heaven and a new earth [Is 66.10-24]. So does the Bible [Rev 21-22].
- Isa. Ch. 40 corresponds to the 40thbook of the Bible which is Matthew. Isa. 40 talks about the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Matthew also describes the same person who is John the Baptist [Mat 3.1-3].
- From Isaiah Ch. 40, there is a new scenario of comfort and salvation for the community held in the captivity of Babylon. From the 40thbook in the Bible which is the first book of the New Testament, we have the message of comfort and salvation through the Messiah for humanity held captive in sin.