THE PROPHECY LETTER
Brief Introduction: Isaiah Chapters 1 and 2
Editor's Note: A Study of Isaiah the Prophet. This new section of eTPL is dedicated to the somewhat detailed examination of the major prophets, beginning with Isaiah. Our intent is to add a chapter or two to this Section as each week passes. The study is nominally complete at this moment, but this gradual display of the text is designed not to overwhelm readers with a vast amount of information at one time.
The entire manuscript as noted is 122,000 words in length (in pica 16 single-spaced, typed pages, if printed), which is just over 300 pages of text. This study is not claimed to be exhaustive, but is designed to give readers an overall, comprehensive understanding of the prophecy of Isaiah - who along with Jeremiah, remained in Judah after the Babylonian conquest of Judah by Babylon, advising the people and any royals who had been left behind. In the works of these two prophets, the student gathers much information as to God's plan for this particular segment of His people.
We stress that this is a dynamic document, not static. By that we mean that additional investigation will be ongoing, God willing, and emendations and clarification of this text may be forthcoming dependent upon our future findings. This does not mean that our basic understanding of it will necessarily change, but that additional, confirmatory evidence, as well as further cross-correlations, will be added as discovered - a rational approach to every detailed study of God's word by responsible and dedicated researchers. <HEL>
Isaiah the Prophet: A Critical Examination
H E Lafferty
122,000 words: 310 pages
This study of the Prophet Isaiah began in September, 2013, not with the original intention of surveying the entire book, but only the prophetic portions of it.
For convenience, I have followed the structure offered by E.W. Bullinger in his Companion Bible; many of the chapter headings are drawn from his work. His marginal notes have been used extensively when, in my opinion, they logically (scripturally) apply to the text.
The study was begun with chapter 40, intending to concentrate upon the “Voice from the Wilderness” section but soon led to the decision to survey the entire book.
The Overall Structure of Isaiah, according to E. W. Bullinger
The gross structure of Isaiah’s work has been classified as follows: note the perfect alternation of subject.
1:2 to 5:20 Exhortation: Reprehensory, Prophetic
6:1 to 6:13 The Voice From the Temple – Scattering
7:1 to 12:6 Historic: Events and Prophecies – Ahaz
13:1 to 27:13 Burdens, Alternated with Israel’s Blessings
28:1 to 35:10 Woes, Alternated With YHVH’s Glories
36:1 to 39:8 Historic. Events and Prophecies – Hezekiah
40: 1 – 11 The Voice from the Wilderness – Gathering
40:12 to 66:24 Exhortation: Promissory, Prophetic
The prophet Isaiah spoke concerning Judah and Jerusalem (1:1) during the reigns of four kings: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. The dates are approximately 760 to 690 BC.
Only three of these kings are mentioned in the text:
Uzziah: in 6: 1; given in the year that he died. Approximately 759 BC.
Jotham: no reference.
Ahaz: 7:1, is given during the reign of this king.
Hezekiah: 36:1, is given as the 14th year of Hezekiah’s reign. Hezekiah appears to have died in 690BC, some four years before the death of Isaiah.
So an overall timeline is fairly clear, and various chapters may be dated to the reigns of these kings with fair certainty.
N.B. Bullinger’s date scheme (as to BC year designations) is largely at variance with others’ determinations of the likely dates of various occurrences, so these have been ignored. He does seem to be fairly accurate as to kings’ length of ruler-ship, as to life-spans of various characters, and other features. So any dates mentioned in this survey are from other sources considered more reliable by the author.
One nettlesome passage which has been misunderstood by many students, is Isaiah 17:4 And in that day it shall come to pass, that the glory of Jacob shall be made thin, and the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean.
Some students of today have conjectured that this leanness of Jacob – indicating its defeat in war – lies yet in its future. But a close consideration of the above dates appears to substantiate that prophecy instead, to be what we believe to be an acutely short-term prophecy of the demise of the Ten Tribes, and their conquest by Assyria, in about 709 BC.
As may be ascertained from the above rough time-line, the earlier writings of the prophet were well prior to the Assyrian invasion – certainly the case with chapter 17.
Furthermore, the predictions of Isaiah do not primarily concern Samaria (Israel, the Ten Tribes) but Judah; any mention of the other ten is only ancillary to the historical times, as is this one.
After the removal of the Ten Tribes (Israel), the remaining Two Tribes became known as Israel, for it was indeed the remnant of the entire People.
Therefore that conquest of Jacob has already occurred in history; such a future expectation is not compatible with the many details foretold for the end time – for it is clearly an era of assured territorial integrity for God’s people – actually, territorial expansion is more correct – for the nation of Israel is not destined for reduction or defeat once it has been re-established in the latter days – Joel 3:2; Jeremiah 24:6; Amos 9:15, q.v.
The operational word here is “Israel,” a nation born on one day in 1948 AD. <HEL code 9M>
[Isaiah 1:1 to 5:30]
Exhortations: Reprehensory. Prophetic
In this study we shall generally be utilizing the structural scheme of the text as suggested by E. W. Bullinger in his great, annotated work, The Companion Bible (A.V.), published circa 1900AD. It is a logical as well as scriptural structural analysis in our view.
As Bullinger notes, the text is that of the Authorized Version of 1611 as published by the Revisers in their Parallel Bible in 1885.
Isaiah’s name means the salvation of YHVH – the revealed but unpronounceable name of Israel’s God. Bullinger substitutes Jehovah for this name, but we will not do so. We recognize that there is no “w” in the Hebrew aleph-bet (alphabet) so we have utilized the Hebrew designation, YHVH – the well-known Tetragrammaton.
But we shall more frequently use the words God, Father, or Almighty, which we consider equivalents in every way.
Isaiah prophesied during the reigns of four kings of Israel, as stated in verse 1. His information evidently came through visions, as he states that he did “see” these here.
Isa 1:1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
Though their years of rulership over Israel is probably not known precisely, they were roughly from 790BC to 688BC. Isaiah’s period of activity is thought to be from about 740BC to 690 BC.
The Word of YHVH, “Hear ye!” are words directed to Zion, the Vineyard.
Isa 1:2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.
The plaintive words of God, not of Isaiah, are articulated throughout – and are addressed to all who will hear them. They shall be meaningful only to those who are looking for the coming of Messiah (cf., Isaiah 8:17 and 45:22).
The Lord GOD is the eternal One – Who was, and is, and is to come. Revelation 1:4; 4:8. His indictment of His people here is severe. All their trouble and persecution has originated in this one cause – their lack of knowledge and/or understanding of His way.
Isa 1:3 The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.
He describes their failures as fourfold – in rapid order – connected by commas:
Isa 1:4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.
Based upon their iniquity and transgression, there is a direct result: their departure from God is noted here as threefold – forsaking, provoking, going away.
Isaiah’s writings are absolutely saturated with this accusation – that Israel has departed from her God, bringing His wrath upon them in terrible retribution.
His rhetorical questions seem to fall upon deaf ears.
Isa 1:5 Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.
Isa 1:6 From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.
The image of their fatal illness is unmistakable; the people’s doom is sealed, every symptom and sign grossly uncovered and open to the eyes and the senses of the Physician.There is none to care for them because they have rejected all their care-givers – their prophets and wise men – their few sincere and avid seekers after righteousness.
As a result, their nation is fatally diseased and doomed – their land is cursed, the prophet’s pronouncement of which is stated in the present tense as being certain …
Isa 1:7 Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.
Their polity is thus being destroyed before their eyes. Their destruction shall be pervasive. They are desolate and forlorn.
Isa 1:8 And the daughter of Zion is left as a (vacant, dilapidated) cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.
The cottage, or lodge, refers to a shelter used by workers during cultivation of the vineyard, and during the harvest; this picture is of an abandoned lodge, left empty and useless after the harvest is finished, and the laborers have departed.
A besieged city is completely dysfunctional; its institutions break down and disappear; its human services evaporate. Its citizens are wounded, killed, and taken away captive.
Now the LORD notes one bright spot: a very small remnant – a minority of people who DO seek Him and hear His testimonies. Otherwise the nation should be non-existent!
Isa 1:9 Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.
Again He addresses them using the names of Sodom and Gomorrah – applying them to His people – for thus they have become, metaphorically, in His sight. He addresses His people by their metaphorical designations:
Isa 1:10 Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.
Isa 1:11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? (He asks, likening them to the hollow, stereotypical, repetitive procedures of “religious" services) , saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.
Although their Father instituted those sacrifices, He did it with the purpose of their offering these in a repentant mood – not with a view to going forth and sinning again, as they were doing. The next several verses intensify this theme:
Isa 1:12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread (meaning to trample – and to profane) my courts?
Isa 1:13 Bring no more vain (unrepentant) oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.
Isa 1:14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts (meaning their shallow and unrepentant OBERVANCE of these holy rituals) my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.
This is true because their observance of the feasts is mechanical and robotic – without feeling or meaning, or repentance.
Isa 1:15 And when ye spread forth your hands (as if to offer a prayer), I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.
He now states the divinely prescribed remedy for their iniquity: He requires repentance, and a turning away from their evil ways. The figures of washing – and of putting away – are employed, which, if applied properly, should have resulted in their cessation to do evil.
Isa 1:16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
Isa 1:17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
These are in direct contradiction to their present conduct …
Isa 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be (meaning, they CAN and SHALL become) as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
He now brings two opposing choices to their attention.
In His infinite patience, He extends to them the options and the benefits of humility and repentance – an abrupt change of their ways – a necessity if they are to prosper in His paths:
Isa 1:19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:
The opposite condition is also certain, if they do NOT repent and turn aside from their way.
Isa 1:20 But if ye refuse and (continue to) rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
His next words are doleful and solemn, uttered without constraint; His people over the years have turned progressively from good to evil. Their departure from Him is of the most sordid kind. The Faithful City’s change of character is put by metonymy for its inhabitants – His people, whose character has become revolting to Him.
His assessment of them is now fatally terminal; in such a condition He can no longer bless them or care for them.
Isa 1:21 How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.
Isa 1:22 Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water:
Both these commodities – silver and wine – are less than useless when so adulterated.
Isa 1:23 Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards (he speaks here of bribes!): they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them (a condition that consists because these penniless ones cannot pay the bribes required by their judges).
Isa 1:24 Therefore saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies:
He indicates His own people here! THEY are His adversaries … His enemies.
Yet there shall be hope – but only after His further purging of their dross; the process shall be as a refining fire!
Isa 1:25 And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin:
Here “tin” is indicative of impurity – of iniquity, where there should have been only righteousness. In so purging the nation, their quality shall be restored; He is still willing to extend His forgiveness to them, but with conditions which they must meet.
His promises here project to a time in the distant future – to the time of their final consolation, to the time of their ultimate redemption.
That these benefits will not be realized before that time, we are now assured from the outworking of their ongoing history – their centuries of persecution and maltreatment.
But that final restoration of Zion is absolutely certain, and inevitable.
Isaiah informs them, however, that their restoration shall not be for the sake of any righteousness of their own, but shall be due to His faithfulness – to fulfill the covenants made to their fathers. Ezekiel 36:22, q.v.
Their Restoration Foretold and Explained
The solemn, comprehensive blessing recorded by Ezekiel is helpful in explaining this benevolence of the Almighty toward His people. The deed and His motive for it become clear when we consider closely this summary blessing, which is to be bestowed on His people in the end time, as He elevates His holy name in them, forgives their iniquities, and restores them as at the first.
In this elevation of Zion, He also exonerates His name and His purpose with them.
But let us note that all these effusive blessings are to come upon them by His divine volition – for His holy name’s sake – but shall actually be given them only after their sincere and exhaustive repentance, and acceptance of Him – a fact of which we (and they) are assured by the solemn statement of Jesus as He gazed upon the City of Zion, weeping for His brethren, pronouncing the standard by which He should bless them in future time: He said …
Luke 13:34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! 35 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
When Israel physically “sees” Him in His Second Appearance among them, and beholds His valiant, complete, and exhaustive defeat of their physical enemies before their eyes, within the borders of the Land of Promise (as promised to Abraham and the patriarchs and their Seed, Christ – Galatians 3:16) – at that time shall they also perceive him, which means to understand His identity, His nature and His purpose – information which has persistently eluded His people for millennia!
Here are the instructive words of the Almighty given through the Prophet Ezekiel:
Ezekiel 36:21 But I had pity for mine holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went.
Eze 36:22 Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went.
Eze 36:23 And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.
Eze 36:24 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.
Eze 36:25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
Eze 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
Eze 36:27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
Eze 36:28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
Eze 36:29 I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you.
Eze 36:30 And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen.
Eze 36:31 Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall lothe yourselves in your own sight (this is true repentance) for your iniquities and for your abominations.
Eze 36:32 Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord GOD, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel.
Eze 36:33 Thus saith the Lord GOD; In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded.
Eze 36:34 And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by.
Eze 36:35 And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited.
Please note carefully the inferred and obviously progressive nature of these early beginnings of the new State of Israel. The Land, over some period of time, BECOMES like the garden of Eden – a fact which has now practically been accomplished, as readily observed by any visitor to Israel today during the season of harvest.
The land at each such season is absolutely drooping with luscious fruits and vegetable produce; its pastures and its cattle are verdant and productive; its vast fields of flowers embellish the formerly sad and desolate landscape; its streams flow vigorously; its people are some of the most productive in all the world – and all this has occurred prior to the appearance of the LORD among them.
Eze 36:36 Then the heathen that are left round about you shall know that I the LORD build the ruined places, and plant that that was desolate: I the LORD have spoken it, and I will do it.
Here the prophet indicates the benevolent extent of God’s blessing upon those who are “left” round about Israel: in their finally learning, and deeply knowing all this is the LORD’s doing, they shall repudiate “Allah” along with the remnant superstitions of Canaan and Syria, and understand the God of Israel – that He is the ONLY God of the universe.
Eze 36:37 Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock.
Eze 36:38 As the holy flock, as the flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts; so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men: and they shall know that I am the LORD.
This pervasive account illustrates well the small and tentative beginning of their return, its progression to a flood of incoming exiles, their rebuilding the desolate Land in the end times – conditions readily allowed (even required!) by the key summary narrative of Ezekiel 37.
Subsequently, it illustrates thoroughly the glorious result of Christ’s intervention on behalf of His people of the end time: they shall know without equivocation that He is sovereign Father of His people, and that His Son has now come to them as they have anciently anticipated – in power and great glory – and that they are INDEED His people, no longer abandoned to their enemies, suffering humiliation and denigration no more; instead, their glorious future is to bless His name, and to reveal it to all the nations, fulfilling their mandate to be a “light to the Gentiles.” Isaiah 49:6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
Back to our Considerations of Isaiah Chapter One
The prophet now reveals the mechanism – the processes – by which the Almighty shall restore His people. He reveals their great dejection for their former course of action. But renewal can come only after their reform.
Isa 1:26 And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city.
Isa 1:27 Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.
Isa 1:28 And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the LORD shall be consumed.
The purging of the dross shall be pervasive and complete.
Their impurity is consumed, meaning completely destroyed from among them.
The remaining metal is pure and unadulterated, free of idolatry, of envy or iniquity or self-will, then dedicated to His glory and honor as the valuable jewels of a crown.
The fate of the proudly defiant among them shall be devastatingly complete.
Their repudiation of their former idolatry shall be absolute.
Those whose strength was expended in rebellion shall have been purged, their ideals, examples, and instructions done away.
Isa 1:29 For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen.
Isa 1:30 For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water.
For sordid details of their transgressions under the oaks and other trees – the places of supreme comfort and tranquility – and in their pleasant horticultural gardens, please see Isaiah 57:5; Ezekiel 6:13; Hosea 4:13; Isaiah 65:3; 66:17.
Isa 1:31 And the strong (the evil ones) shall be as tow (Hebrew, nekoreth, which is that shaken out, or the refuse of flax), and the maker of it as a spark, and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them.
This terrible summary of Israel’s downfall should have depressed them profoundly, and prompted their revival to righteousness.
But it did not.
Their judgment was to be severe, beginning with their conquest by Babylon, and their seventy year captivity.
After their return they did not practice idolatry as formerly, but were led into other iniquitous behavior, all of which was vile in His sight.
Therefore, the nation would suffer greatly before their state of righteousness was restored.
It is this state of restored righteousness which is the subject of Isaiah’s next words. < HEL code 9M>
Zion’s Future Glory
The initial statement of this revelation heralds exactly how Zion shall be redeemed with judgment and her converts with righteousness (Isaiah 1:27 being fulfilled).
Zion is here again defined as Judah and Jerusalem, so there can be no mistake.
Isa 2:1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
His next words bear special emphasis, because they are repeated almost verbatim by another prophet of Israel some 18 years later – by Micah, in 4:1-3, q.v.
They reveal the summary blessings to be heaped upon Zion and upon its people in the last days, and the visible, overabundant supremacy to be achieved in His Second Coming …
Isa 2:2 And it shall come to pass in the last days (these shall be the days of Messiah), that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
The meaning of this is that many people from all nations – not all of them from all nations – shall come to Jerusalem. In that day as in this, their personal convictions shall drive their actions. And not all will be convinced of Messiah’s veracity or authority.
The next phrase bears this out … the word, many …
Isa 2:3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law (the texts say only “law” – differentiating His newly instituted “law” from The Law of Moses), and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
The pervasiveness of His authority is reflected in these verses – that His regency shall finally extend to the whole earth.
It proves that some shall not follow His directions, for all of them need His “teaching.”
This record also shows that the nations in general, including the so-called “Christian” nations such as the USA, shall have been on erroneous paths, not in accordance with His will.
They have not yet heard the Truth of God’s word – but are about to do so!
His next words illustrate His correction of their ways – His rebuke of their iniquities.
Isa 2:4 And he shall judge (or rule) among the nations (all the nations!), and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
This reference to farm implements is put for the conversion of all kinds of weapons – even nuclear devices, warplanes, military armor, laser weapons, and all armament shall be either destroyed or converted to peaceful uses – to productive, not destructive applications.
Incidentally, we must point out here that these words obviate any supposed “rebellion” at the end of the Millennial Reign of the LORD Jesus.
If such were to eventuate, this statement would have been entirely nullified. That account in Revelation 20, has an entirely different application, the consideration of which here should be an unwanted diversion.
Isa 2:5 O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.
Here for Israel, is the greatest blessing of all; now shall they walk – conduct their lives – in the LIGHT of the LORD; they shall no longer devote their lives to selfish ends, but shall give true glory and honor to the Almighty One in humble, subservient obedience!
He shall be their God, and they shall be His people.
The Sin of Judah and Her Judgment
Now He states again for the record, His reasons for having long forsaken – and purposing, at that time in history, YET to abandon for a long while – the house of Jacob.
The Prophet Micah confirms these conditions in his summary prophecy of the end time: Micah 5:3 Therefore will he give them up (i.e.,abandon them), until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel.
The terminal point of that “abandonment” was the terminal years of their down-treading by the Gentiles – the end of the “times of the Gentiles,” which occurred in 1917-18, with the expulsion of the last King of the North, Ottoman Turkey, and the liberation of the land by Great Britain’s army of Egypt.
All these seemingly endless years took their toll of innocent people in huge numbers, resulting in nonstop persecution and repression of the Jewish people in their long exile.
But the Almighty’s basis for this punishment was just and righteous. It was because they had adopted EASTERN superstitions – the deceptions of Babylon’s divinations.
Isa 2:6 Therefore (or, for these reasons) thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers (the meaning is that they join hands with strangers or foreigners, adopting their ways).
These eastern “religions” have one thing in common: diviners and mediums as supposed go-betweens of the living with the dead – an abomination of the grossest sort, giving out that they can communicate with the dead – a blatant lie … for the living know that they shall die, but the dead know not anything (Ecclesiastes 9:5).
And who are these soothsayers?
They are those who observe days or times. These practices give over their personal guidance to someone other than the Father, and usurp His glory. Deuteronomy 18: 10 forbids these practices: … that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch; they were commanded to be separate from these corrupting influences, and not adopt the ways of the heathen round about them.
This practice placed superstitious meaning on the shapes of clouds, the importance of certain days, the content of organs from dead animals such as livers – and avoidance of leaving for a journey on Friday, or avoidance of the number thirteen as in our own day.
Even today we see despicable evidence of the persistence of these “magicians” in the shacks of “fortune tellers” of the present day, the predictions made by “mediums” such as Jeanne Dixon, and even the party use of Ouijah Boards in an attempt to contact the dead!
These enchantments would be entirely familiar to the sons of Jacob in this period of history. absolutely forbids certain practices which go directly against the will and authority of the Father: Regard not (pay no heed) to them that (claim to) have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards to be defiled by them … Leviticus 19: 31.
These prohibitions forbid any contact whatever with mediums who claim to be able to contact “spirits” personating dead human beings, supposedly giving up their will and knowledge to “mediums” or “guides” – all of which are the grossest kind of charlatanism and deception, belying any real understanding of God’s ways.
Incredibly, this practice still persists to this day! As already stated, every town and village in the Western world has its “fortune teller” or “diviner” with their dens of deception prominently located near a well-traveled road, and capture many souls every day who place their trust in them – harvesting their wealth and offering them false hope for no real benefit whatever!
All this is materialism and mysticism - Humanism of the grossest sort.
Isa 2:7 Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots:
Isa 2:8 Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made:
Isa 2:9 And the mean man (adam – the common man) boweth down, and the great man (ish – those in authority) humbleth himself: therefore forgive them not.
Here is characterized every stratum of society – all have gone astray after these foul beliefs.
Jacob, however, is commanded to flee these practices:
Isa 2:10 Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty.
Isa 2:11 The lofty looks of man (vaunting himself against God) shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men (their insufferable pride, and arrogance) shall be bowed down (humbled, brought into submission), and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.
Isa 2:12 For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low:
Isa 2:13 And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan (that is, upon all the objects and institutions of men’s valuation – their vaunted temporal possessions and institutions),
Isa 2:14 And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up (those who elevate themselves against God),
Isa 2:15 And upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall (every institution of men thrown up against the will of the Almighty),
Isa 2:16 And upon all the ships of Tarshish (the commerce of the world), and upon all pleasant pictures (or all desirable circumstances – elevating self, not God).
The ships of Tarshish here do not indicate the vessels of any nation, unless it be those of Israel of Solomon’s day. Instead, Tarshish Ships, as noted by Bullinger, in his notes on I Kings 10:22, were “the name of large, ocean-going ships (such as the “East-India Men” of his own day). When mentioned as a place, Tarshish is identified by Oppert with Tartessus = the Seville (Spain) of today, noted for silver (not gold), iron, tin and lead – Jeremiah 10:9; Ezekiel 27:12. They sailed from Tyre to the West Mediterranean and from Ezion-geber to Ophir (Arabia, India and East Africa – I Kings 9:26-28 and 10:11 – see The Times, November 26, 1912).”
In addition, Britain’s southwest coast of Cornwall has for centuries been a source of tin, lead and other metals. Indeed one historian has stated that Britannia was also known as “the Tin Isle.” It may also have been a major source of the tin sold in the marts of Phoenicia’s Tyre and Sidon, and that ships trading with those far-away places became known generically as “Tarshish ships” because of this close association.
This would explain why Solomon’s navy, built with the assistance of Hiram of Tyre at Ezion-geber (today’s Eilat) at the northern tip of the Red Sea, would also be associated with “Tarshish” (“ships going to Tarshish”) even though the sailing route to Britain and Spain should have been far more workable if originating at Joppa, Judah’s port on the Mediterranean. A relevant reading is: 2Chronicles 9:21 - For the king's ships went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram (Hiram): every three years once came the ships of Tarshish bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks.
All these are expressions of verses 7-9 are expressions of men’s haughtiness, and the unlimited conceit of every man and woman. It results in each of them giving God’s glory to another – to some other entity than the Father – and trusting their judgment above His mercy. He has warned man, asking “… how should my name be polluted? … I will not give my glory unto another. Isaiah 48:11.
His logic is voiced clearly in his next words:
Isa 2:17 And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down (or humbled), and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.
Isa 2:18 And the idols he shall utterly abolish.
In contrast, those who fear, or respect and revere, the name of the LORD, shall well recognize the approach of His wrath upon the earth – and shall take appropriate measures.
That is, they shall not JOIN in these practices with their heathen neighbors, but shall isolate themselves against His wrath, a lesson which the faithful will take to their hearts, and seek to teach in their congregations.
All these associations fatally dilute the faith of those who believe firmly in the sanctity of the Almighty, and bring unholy results to their lives in every way.
His prescription for them is thunderously clear.
Isa 2:19 And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.
His glorious presence shall cause all His people to abandon their evil ways, for great numbers shall adopt this righteous course, prodded by the violence of the times – and by the extreme hostility directed by their enemies toward His people of that day.
Then shall wealth and station cease to have relevance for men, their abandonment of which shall be remarkable; each one’s own survival shall be paramount to his purpose.
Isa 2:20 In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats;
Isa 2:21 To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.
The prophet Joel speaks of this day as one of heavenly signs, of thick clouds and darkness. Joel 2:30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.
In Joel’s third chapter he gives further details of this great, final, agonal chapter in the history of mankind as being far removed from the ways of the Almighty; it is an account of their enemies’ swift destruction amidst the chaos and perplexity that is coming. It speaks of violent action against the Holy People; His words speak of the terminal events of the Adamic dispensation, and that society’s conversion to the ways of the LORD!
But more pointedly, His words speak to the direct effect which these events shall exert upon His beloved People Israel, then (now being) regathered into their own Land for the second time (cf., Isaiah 11:11).
Joel 3:12 Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat (see II Chronicles 20 for a vividly pictorial account of this prototypical but virtual “valley” and the typical events that occurred there): for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. 13 Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great. 14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision (this is the same “valley” as that of Jehoshaphat, in our opinion). 15 The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. 16 The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.
That pitched battle is between Christ and the Saints along with Israel, against all Israel’s proximate enemies; its location as labeled, “the Valley of Jehoshaphat,” is in our opinion both virtual (symbolic) and multiple, and involves collectively every individual battle of Christ and His army against them.
As such it shall be spread throughout the land between the Nile and the Euphrates (the Abrahamic inheritance of Genesis 12), and not be confined to one location.
The Valley of Jehoshaphat is therefore a virtual location, and in our opinion, is not physically limited to one place or venue.
In its widespread distribution, their destruction is complete and terrible. And the result is wondrously successful as witness to His Majesty and Sovereignty, for its result is that, at that moment shall His people KNOW HIM as their Father and their God), Joel 3:17 - So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.
His sensible admonition is obvious.
Isa 2:22 Cease ye from man, whose breath (Hebrew, neshama) is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?
The implication of this is that man’s ability is merely temporal, driven solely by the breath of mortal life, contrasted with God’s infinite ability, driven by His eternal Spirit; thus the question … for wherein is he (man) to be accounted of ?
It appears from this passage that men in general shall realize that a catastrophic change is approaching their civilization, and that some of that day among His people (but not many) should quickly abandon their former pursuits of idolatry, and iniquity of other kinds, casting those practices away with resolute intentions.
But many others shall not be so affected, and should continue to depend upon their own resources and their own errant leaders.
The events of this tribulation are the subject of Isaiah’s next utterance. <HEL code 9M>
The Political Ruin of Judah
The physical ruin of Judah is here foretold: the nation is already in advanced spiritual decay. The text reflects their overthrow by Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar, the destruction of their Temple, and ruination of their city Jerusalem.
Its entire physical, societal and religious infrastructure is slated for demolition and decay in these terrible words:
Isa 3:1 For, behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water,
Isa 3:2 The mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient,
Isa 3:3 The captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator.
Accordingly, their governance shall decline into the hands of inexperienced men.
This condition reflects the temporary abandonment of Judah by the Almighty, and His relinquishment of their guidance into the hands of those who are inexperienced, immature and of low quality.
Isa 3:4 And I will give children (inexperienced leaders) to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.
Isa 3:5 And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable.
This fall into disorder and chaos brings intrafamilial strife, and dishonor. Children vaunt themselves against their elders; family values break down; there is no hope.
Isa 3:6 When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, saying, Thou hast clothing (put here for the necessities of life), be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand:
Isa 3:7 In that day shall he swear, saying, I will not be an healer (a provider for all); for in my house is neither bread nor clothing: make me not a ruler of the people.
Isa 3:8 For Jerusalem is ruined (or overthrown), and Judah is fallen: because their tongue and their doings are against the LORD, to provoke the eyes of his glory.
Isa 3:9 The shew (the expression) of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! (that word indicating them, themselves – nephesh) for they have rewarded evil unto themselves.
In short, their evil is reflexive – it affects each sinner as much as all others.
Now a contrast in behavior is sharply drawn – between the obedient and the disobedient – the righteous and the wicked; notice carefully the juxtaposition of the conditions of “wellness” and being “ill,” typical of the righteous as to the wicked …
Isa 3:10 Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.
Isa 3:11 Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.
Thus, in the symbol of wages, the rewards of each is contrasted.
Isa 3:12 As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.
Untutored, untrained leaders are their lot now; experienced, benevolent and responsible leaders are no longer available to them; their shepherds are immature and without experience – and without credibility: unrighteous. The result is, judgment is near.
Isa 3:13 The LORD standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people.
Isa 3:14 The LORD will enter into judgment with the ancients of his people, and the princes thereof: for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses.
This criticism credits the leadership of Judah with its downfall; its princes have failed to lead and govern in righteous ways. Thus they have consumed their people.
Isa 3:15 What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord GOD of hosts.
This reference decries their treatment of the oppressed – that their leaders grind their faces into the ground (or debase them) with neglect and inattention to their needs.
His condemnation now takes a more specific turn, as He comments upon their daily activities, their dress, and their demeanor among themselves.
The catalogue of clothing items here is unusually complete, and poignant. And note, their outward manner of dress indicates their inward attitudes – both their clothing and ornaments. indicating their shallow and capricious (irresponsible) approach to their obligations toward the Almighty.
Isa 3:16 Moreover the LORD saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes (with their chins lifted high in pride, and acting willfully), walking and mincing (to walk with short, enticing steps – coquettishly) as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet:
In Amos 4:1, these daughters of Zion are characterized as kine of Bashan – as heifers, which are headstrong, haughty, pushy, and willful. The phrase who make a tinkling with their feet, is often used of women who express themselves as men – who are authoritative, or demanding. They sashay about with confidence and verve – lording it over their peers in great pride and haughtiness!
Isa 3:17 Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab (a scourge of open sores) the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will discover their secret parts (or uncover their nakedness to their shame).
Isa 3:18 In that day the Lord will take away the bravery (the brazen pretense) of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls (or decorative caps), and their round tires (meaning their attire, or ornaments), like the moon (these were crescent-shaped ornaments worn about the head),
Isa 3:19 The chains (pendants), and the bracelets, and the mufflers (or light face veils),
Isa 3:20 The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets (these were scent or perfume bottles), and the earrings (or amulets),
Isa 3:21 The rings, and nose jewels,
Isa 3:22 The changeable suits of apparel (these were excessive items of clothing, both gala and state dress), and the mantles, and the wimples (or ornate neck bindings), and the crisping pins (a peculiar phrase for reticules, or purses),
Isa 3:23 The glasses (primping mirrors of polished metal), and the fine linen (Bullinger says this means underclothing), and the hoods, and the vails.
As in verse 18, the LORD shall take away all these accessories, and cast His people down into the grossest poverty and destitution. When they are carried away captive to Babylon, these superficial decorations will mean nothing to them.
The result shall be devastating for them; its description is horrendous and frightening …
Isa 3:24 And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty.
Isa 3:25 Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.
Isa 3:26 And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground.
The last description brings to mind the street-side beggar, clothed in filthy rags, destitute, afflicted, tormented, oppressed by their God – without hope of deliverance, without prospect of renewed prosperity or safety..
The first verse of the following chapter (4) should be appended to chapter 3. It reads:
Isaiah 4:1 And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.
To be unmarried in Judah was to be shunned and avoided. To be married but barren was an even greater stigma. The day would soon come when this condition would be prevalent. The difference in ratio of men to women here suggests that many men should have been lost to warfare, leaving perhaps seven women for one man. <HEL code 9M> ~ 1225 words.
Oppression of Zion,
Followed by Her Future Glory
As already noted, the first verse rightly belongs with the previous chapter, q.v.
Isa 4:1 And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.
Zion’s Future Glory
The words in that day here designate a time after all the previous judgments. As in a preponderance of the prophetic messages, the description of the times of oppression and destitution are usually followed by a godly solution to those woes. That is the case here, indicating an eventual turnabout of Judah’s fortunes, and a certain prospect of healing.
Isa 4:2 In that day shall the Branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.
The Branch in this verse should be capitalized, because it clearly refers to Messiah, the Branch of YHVH. The Hebrew word for Branch here is Tsemach (Strong H6780), and is not the same word so translated in 11:1 – a more noticeable reference to Messiah – in which the word is Netser (Strong H5342).
Nevertheless, this Branch of YHVH brings the beauty and glory here described, for it is His righteous reign that makes these elements flourish among men. Note that these blessings are intended for them that are escaped of Israel.
The phraseology is consistent with a remnant being saved from the great persecution and oppression of the previous chapters. This designation of them as a remnant is used in many other references to the redeemed of Israel, the flagship verse being Isaiah 11:11 … the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left …
This “remnant” is that which we have personally witnessed being gathered in our day – the remnant of European Jews – those remaining after the devastating years of the Shoah. It also includes virtually ALL the Jews of the Arab nations round about the new State of Israel: the same verse in Isaiah nominates these additional returnees as those … which shall be left (the remnant), from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.
The next verse would indicate those who are left in Zion, but also those who are restored to Zion:
Isa 4:3 And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem:
This reference to every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem echoes the words of Daniel 12:1 … and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
These are the blessed of His people – those who have been recovered for His specific purpose and will. These are “holy,” or sacred to Him – the chosen of His race. They are determined by Him to become residents of the “first dominion” of His kingdom (cf. Micah 4:8).
It is this blessed remnant already resident within His realm with which He begins to occupy the Throne of David upon Mount Zion, in the City of the Great King!
The next verse speaks to the details of this day …
Isa 4:4 When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning (here He refers to refining, as metal purification with fire).
Isa 4:5 And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence.
We remember well that this reference recalls the pillar of fire by night and the cloud, which by day and night guided the Children of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai, toward the Land of Promise. It effectively stood between them and the armies of Pharaoh which were vigorously pursuing them as they left Egypt.
In this coming day, its presence shall guide the scattered sons and daughters of Zion homeward, to their everlasting inheritance – to that Land in which they shall live in comfort and safety, under the benevolent reign of the King of Kings, who shall Himself be the Tabernacle of God unto them and to all the faithful …
Isa 4:6 And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.
During the Millennial Reign of Christ, there shall be challenges, such as storm and rain – the gauntlet of the flesh shall yet be present to be overcome, though conditions of habitation shall be vastly improved and perfected as the diabolos (sin in the flesh) is greatly repressed, when nations shall not lift up a sword against nation, and they shall learn (or practice) war no more. Cf., Isaiah 2. <HEL code 9M> ~800 words.
The Song of YHVH
The initial phrases of Isaiah’s message are reminiscent of the beautiful prose of Solomon’s Song concerning his Beloved. He builds a vineyard for her and plants it with the noblest vines; He constructs a tower in its midst for protection – and a winepress for expressing the goodness from the grapes which He expects His people to produce.
But in contrast to Solomon’s vineyard, it fails to bring forth good grapes. Its produce is stunted and twisted – unprofitable to Him, and an utter failure.
It is therefore surely an hollow echo of the parable of the fig tree of Luke 13:6, about which He dug, and fertilized for three years, with no acceptable productivity at all.
Both these figures symbolize Israel (verse 7).
Isa 5:1 Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:
Isa 5:2 And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.
The physical makeup, or constitution, of the vineyard offered the very best prospects. It was located in a fruitful hill. It was securely fenced, its stones had been removed, and it had been cultivated – planted with the choicest vines – and enclosed its own tower. It contained its own winepress. There seemed no deterrent to its abundant production of fruit.
But it produced none.
The inhabitants of Jerusalem should have recognized immediately that the parable related to them, and to their unfruitfulness in the LORD.
Their time has come for a decision.
Isa 5:3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.
Isa 5:4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?
His ponderous question is why, after all the concentrated efforts He had expended upon it, that he had obtained this unacceptable result from his vineyard.
The answer is doubtless obvious to Him – but not to them.
So He must take action.
Isa 5:5 And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof (or withdraw His protection from it), and it shall be eaten up (swallowed up by Babylon at the first – and even later by Rome); and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:
To take away the hedge thereof is to withdraw His divine protection from them. That will allow the vineyard to be “eaten up,” and “trodden down” by predators. Cultivation shall be withdrawn; no rain shall fall upon it henceforth.n
The pathetic, exhaustive extent of these physical insults to His Land are well documented by travelers to Palestine as late as the early 20th century. Mark Twain famously reported upon the utter desolation of the Land in his work, Innocents Abroad, in the mid-19th century.
Isa 5:6 And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.
Briers and thorns always seem to arise from conditions of neglect and abandonment of land; but here these have a connotation beyond neglect of His land.
The interlopers from neighboring countries moved into the lands from which His people had been removed, and squatted upon it for centuries, contributing no worthwhile benefit upon it, merely occupying it for its meager herbage, upon which fed their sheep and goats. Moving from place to place, the Bedouin lived in temporary shelters of goat-hair tents with their numerous children and extended families. Some of these became wealthy by foraging the desolate landscapes of God’s Holy Land during His abandonment of it.
This abandonment is directly foretold by the prophet Micah (5:3) when he prophesies that He will give them up (or abandon them, in other versions), until the time when she which travaileth hath brought forth …
That time would lie in the finite future for them, and would terminate only at their second return to the Land from all nations, becoming their own State again in 1948 AD! (cf., Isaiah 11:11)
The words I will lay it waste should therefore attain a degree of fulfillment unimagined by any of those transgressors; their expectations could not possibly have comprehended their future tribulations, or the utter wastage of their ancient homelands.
Withdrawing His prophets and other spiritual mentors for the time between the Testaments fulfilled the prophecy that it should not be pruned nor digged – should have no cultivation at all – that its meager population should not be tutored nor instructed – and the rain of His word should be withheld from it. But that lack of pruning and digging (cultivation) continued through the many centuries since the first advent of Christ, and His crucifixion.
It lay fallow and uncultivated for almost 1900 years, gaining some semblance of a good prospect only with the first stirrings of Zionism, in the late 19th century.
In such conditions, only briars and thorns flourish – which is analogous not only to the destitution of the Land itself, but to the influx of foreigners from the Arabian peninsula, from Babylon, Assyria and Egypt – of people from the pagan nations who should fill the vacuum created by the removal of His people.
These gave rise to the Samaritans, for example, who brought back into the region their idols and heathen customs.
The figure of a Vineyard as Israel His People is now made unmistakably certain:
Isa 5:7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment (good judgment on their part), but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry (a plea for help from those oppressed ones).
His expectation from them was judicious behavior, or prudent conduct before Him. Instead, the opposite resulted. Their arrogance was lifted up before Him. They vaunted themselves against Him.
The Parable Interpreted for Them
As we begin to consider the latter portion of this chapter, we note that the word “woe” is uttered SIX times in its remaining words.
These address six different subjects, which we shall note in our comments upon it.
Isa 5:8 Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!
The first WOE decries their proliferation of houses, and by extension, riches. Although not wrong or sinful in themselves, this increase in wealth and property without appropriate attention to the things of the Spirit, is condemned in the strongest of terms.
These are destined to be abandoned, left alone, trodden down, and destroyed. Psalm 102:7 describes the psalmist, and by extension his readers, Israel, as “a sparrow alone upon an housetop,” exposed to the predators of the air, fated to be taken and destroyed, eaten by them.
Isa 5:9 In mine ears said the LORD of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant.
Isa 5:10 Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath (about six English gallons), and the seed of an homer (about eight bushels of seed) shall yield an ephah (which is about three pecks, English).
The vineyard shall utterly fail, not even reproducing its own original planting!
Isa 5:11 Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!
This second WOE decries drunkenness, depravity, and irresponsibility of comport.
Isa 5:12 And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the LORD, neither consider the operation of his hands.
Their drunkenness and inordinate, gluttonous feasting was a smoke in His nostrils. Their lack of serious consideration of Him was an abomination.
The Reason for Their Captivity
Isa 5:13 Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.
The clear figure here is “lack of knowledge (or understanding);” it is here related to a famine of true bread, and of a thirst for His word – or commandments, or guidance.
For this behavior, there was no excuse, for were not Isaiah and Jeremiah left with the remnant in the Land for their counsel and instruction? And were not Ezekiel and Daniel sent into captivity with those of the nation who were exiled, for their tutelage and guidance?
This behavior has grave consequences – which would be their going into captivity in Babylon. That insult lay just ahead of them at this time, and was certain to come unless they amended their ways.
Isa 5:14 Therefore hell (Sheol – the grave) hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.
Isa 5:15 And the mean man (adam – the common man) shall be brought down, and the mighty man (ish – the peer, or prominent man) shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled:
All their social structure shall be dismantled and debased. Their society shall essentially perish in the coming onslaught from the north. All shall be humbled, and brought low.
But the opposite shall be true for the LORD – and by implication, for all those who trust in Him.
Isa 5:16 But the LORD of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness.
Isa 5:17 Then shall the lambs (His true sheep) feed after their manner, and the waste places of the fat ones (the transgressors) shall strangers eat.
His ways being respected and observed, should be the exaltation which He rightfully claimed from them – which He had the inherent right to expect from them – His sanctification.
Isa 5:18 Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope:
Isa 5:19 That say, Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it!
This WOE (the third) calls attention to their focus on sin and iniquity of all sorts. Their depraved ambitions actually sought a strong response from the Almighty – they dared Him to intervene, or to correct their errancy!
Their vile practices were diametrically opposed to His Way, as spelled out in the next line – the fourth WOE:
Isa 5:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Their definitions of evil, darkness, and bitterness – esteeming them to be the opposites of what they were – was a direct result of their deviant behavior … and their acceptance of the ways of the nations from which the Almighty had delivered them in the initial years of their habitation of Canaan.
Isa 5:21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight (the arrogant, and the haughty)!
The fifth WOE harshly denounced this extreme arrogance – this elevation of self above all others, and even above the LORD himself!
Isa 5:22 Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink (the drunkards):
Isa 5:23 Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him (those who bear false witness, and take bribes for unjust judgment)!
The final (sixth) WOE condemns their practice of oppression of their own people in matters of judgment and law. To bear false witness was to break the Ninth Commandment given to Moses for them (Exodus 20:16).
All these action bring reactions – from the Almighty. He now sets these forth for their learning. He summons pictures of the winnowing of harvest – assigning to them the role of chaff and stubble.
Isa 5:24 Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
These words were certainly fulfilled in real time and in rapid order by the coming invasion by Babylon, and the destruction that was impressed by Nebuchadnezzar's army. The reasoning of the Almighty is that His punishment is a result of their own iniquity; they have judged themselves unworthy of further mercies from Him!
But typical of every excoriation of their sinful behaviour, their loving and faithful Father immediately reassures them of future blessings ... His hand of forgiveness is "stretched out still."
Isa 5:25 Therefore is the anger of the LORD kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcasses were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
The ambivalence of these remarks should have illustrated to them clearly, that even in the fury of His anger, His forgiving hand is yet stretched out to them in love.
He will therefore institute His remedy for them.
It consists of a singular achievement on His part; in the latter days, He shall raise up an ensign to Judah and to Israel from afar. This shall be
That ensign (Hebrew, nes – a flag, standard, or banner – which represent a state) is to be their re-constituted polity, the nation of Israel in the end time!
Isa 5:26 And he will lift up an ensign to the nations (these “nations” are Judah and Israel – the two and the ten) from far (indicating their great dispersion from their homeland), and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly:
The “hiss” here is said to be the hissing that beekeepers make to call their bees, and is also analogous to whistling for one’s pet dog.
It is a signal – a commandment, really – for them to return to Him (cf. Micah 5:1-3), which, at the proper time, they shall do with haste (with speed).
It is notable that, after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, its population more than doubled in only four years, as the dispersed from Europe and the Arabic lands poured back freely into their own land, fleeing the oppression which was forced upon them in all other places of the earth! It has grown exponentially since that early date, and today (2015) stands at more than six million Jewish citizens!
Isa 5:27 None shall be weary nor stumble among them; none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken:
He is assuring them that, in that future day, their determination – their tenacity – shall be indomitable; and their resolve unchangeable.
This re-gathering is as certain as were their earlier dispersions to Babylon, and then to the nations.
The great military and intellectual prowess of His people is predicted to be remarkable, and pronounced to all observers. Additionally, their spirit of recovery of their Land, and of seeking a “place” among the nations, shall be irrepressible.
It represents an entirely new departure from their former demeanor – the initial evidence of an entirely new initiative on their parts – i.e., resistance to evil that is effective, and devastating.
Their vile enemies were about to see a NEW thing from the Jews of the world – a dedication to resistance against their enemies, and of survival that they had never been able to marshal.
Isa 5:28 Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses' hoofs shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind:
Isa 5:29 Their roaring shall be like a lion, they shall roar like young lions: yea, they shall roar, and lay hold of the prey, and shall carry it away safe, and none shall deliver it.
This vivid description signals the intensity of their return to that Ensign – and the determination of their will to establish it, and to make it safe for their own habitation – roaring upon their enemies like a young lion (later to be commanded by the Lion of Judah in person!).
Their singular prowess in warfare today is surely supernatural in origin, although unperceived by most; it is the angelic assistance of Michael the Archangel, into whose hands the people of Israel are given as they re-assemble in their Land. Daniel 12:1-3.
We have beheld with awe this modern-day power of the Israeli people not only in procuring their land, but also in securing it, and in governing it successfully (as to human institutions).
Their spiritual renovation is yet to come.
Isa 5:30 And in that day they (Israel) shall roar against them (their enemies) like the roaring of the sea: and if one look unto the land, behold darkness and sorrow, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof.
These words foretell the pervasive power of His people in the end time, when they shall darken the skies of their enemies with smoke and brimstone, and with their rain of destruction by bombs and missiles, artillery and overpowering military force.
We have beheld with admiration and awe such demonstrations of Israeli, power time and again in these end times – their overpowering domination of their enemies from all quarters, their swift victories against the forces of darkness!
And these words also foreshadow a day when the ensign, Israel, is superseded by its ultimate Ensign, the LORD, Jesus Christ, by His Second Coming – and by His literally saving His people from the enemies from which they shall perhaps (?) have become incapable of delivering themselves.
This claim of literally saving them from their enemies in the End Time – because of the extreme pressure of their opponents’ numbers and arms, perhaps coming in great hordes of fighters, at Israel from all sides, and most distressingly, from within (this shall be the PLO, for example) – is shown by such extremely pointed passages as Isaiah 63: 1.
This passage directly pictures for us that seemingly first visible action of the returned Christ and His Saints, then beginning to overpower and destroy the vile opponents of His People and His nascent Kingdom.
He shall entertain no such opposition to the divine economy which is about to be established in the holy place of the Land which these enemies viciously covet, as foretold in Psalm 83, where it is clear that the nations round about are intent upon the destruction of the nation and people of Israel – and their own acquisition of Israel’s land and wealth.
This could only have come to pass as “Israel” shall have been re-constituted upon the ancient territory of Israel. It is then (meaning, now) that their enemies determine to destroy Israel, the political entity, and to acquire all her territory and wealth for themselves.
We have no need to remind readers that this precise scenario is developing before our eyes at this moment in time.
Be assured, dear ones, that the re-constitution of all things is about to begin, forecasted by the Apostle Peter, in Acts 3:20 - And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
Peter here urgently delivers to his brethren of that day a lucid admonition – contained in the immediately previous words of Peter: Acts 3:18 But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. 19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord …
It has been the determination of The Prophecy Letters for over twenty five years to encourage His people to live in expectancy of His second appearing; to so order our lives as entirely to be compatible with and expectant of His intervention in the affairs of mankind.
It is an eventuality which men, generally, do not expect – or even think necessary, or possible.
But even babes in Christ are thankfully aware of its necessity and its inherently everlasting benefits.
For only such intervention shall be able to bring about the restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began! <HEL MD/USA 10M> ~3300 words.
The Voice From the Temple
Early in Isaiah’s ministry this vision came to him.
Isa 6:1 In the year that king Uzziah died (c. 737BC, in the first years of Isaiah’s ministry), I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
Isa 6:2 Above it stood the seraphims (the translation should have been seraphim, because that is the plural as well as the singular form of the word): each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
In the original text “the” is omitted: Above it stood seraphim(s) … which means “burning ones.” These appear to be celestial beings, but undefined here. It is certain that they are not connected with evil as mentioned here.
Isa 6:3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
We are here transported to a time, post-adventual, in which the kingdom age is well established. Numbers 14: 21 refers to it as the time when all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.
The cries of the Seraphim – holy, holy, holy – is issued threefold for intense and solemn emphasis. It has nothing whatever to do with a trinity of gods as has been claimed.
In Revelation 4, these same entities are pictured in some detail as having four faces – those of a lion, an ox, a man, and an eagle. This is a theme which runs throughout the scriptures as being symbolic of the complete Man – the Lord Jesus Christ – four aspects of Whose service illustrate the authority of a lion, the labor of an ox, the nature of a man, and the spiritual expression of an eagle. These likewise cry, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
Compare the layout of the encampment of Israel, the themes of the four gospels, etc.
This acclamation causes the house to shake … and to fill with smoke.
Isa 6:4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
Isaiah senses great importance to this event, and cries out …
Isa 6:5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone (meaning dumb, or lost – disoriented); because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
Like Moses, Isaiah is deeply impressed to have beheld a representation of the future Messiah of Israel – at that time called the Lord of Hosts, or YHVH tz’vaoth.
The “host” of which He is Lord, is the four and twenty elders of Revelation 4; these represent the Redeemed Saints, wearing crowns of gold, and sitting, clothed with robes of white, and drawn from the populations of both Israel and the Gentiles (representing the Tribes and the Apostles).
Isaiah’s humble position flashes before his mind; he is a mere mortal – and dwells among other mere mortals – all stricken with sin, all unworthy to behold Him. This condition is soon to change …
It is a vivid vision, typical of future time, and its realization deeply affects the prophet.
Isa 6:6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:
Isa 6:7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.
The word “purged” is Hebrew kaphar, which means a covering – and in this case, atonement, in a ceremonial sense. Here it is achieved by a burning away of his iniquity.
This purging of Isaiah has little time to take effect within him before he hears a plaintive question from the Lord Himself:
Isa 6:8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
The prophet, no longer hindered by his formerly sinful condition, immediately sees an opportunity to be of service to his Lord, and blurts out his acceptance of the challenge – Here am I; send me!
Isa 6:9 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.
Isa 6:10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.
The stated mission recognizes the Almighty’s need for a just warning to His people, but it also recognizes the un-likelihood of their actually hearing His warning to them – for their habits are deeply engrained, and their sin a matter of comfort and pleasure to them. Yet, they shall have been warned … exhorted to reform, and bidden to change their vile ways.
Now Isaiah questions the length of his ministry …. The answer consists of several stipulations. It also indicates an impossibly long stretch of time, which Isaiah personally should not be able to fulfill in his lifetime. But his inscriptions remain in perpetuity for their counsel.
So that provision was also being provided for!
Isa 6:11 Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate,
Isa 6:12 And the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.
It is a devastating forecast for Isaiah’s beloved people and country. He can have had no inkling of its future severity and prolongation of term.
Yet, his written message – the prophecy of Isaiah – should remain before them, preserved in its purity, for their continual inspection and enlightenment. It would be the way in which his testimony to them should be prolonged throughout all their days, nourishing and instructing them to the limit of their acceptance of it!
That gracious benefit extends into our own age, in which we perceive the prophecies of Isaiah invaluable to our understanding of the end time events.
We know that this was His intention, because the Dead Sea Scrolls contain a full text of Isaiah that was produced sometime in the first century before Christ; and it conforms exactly to the text we have available to us today!
And now the outcome, though admittedly hurtful to Israel in the near term, contains the kernel of hope which the Almighty always offers to them in the end.
Isa 6:13 But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.
The “tenth” of which He speaks actually did not remain in the Land for its entire term of desolation. Indeed, almost all its inhabitants were removed, and the land declined to a point at which it could sustain almost no life – only a few remaining Jews, and the ubiquitous Bedouin with their scrawny sheep and goats, living in their temporary and movable tents of goats’ hair, eternally wandering its hills and valleys in search of sustenance.
But the “tenth” should RETURN – and to an extent, be “eaten” by their enemies. But like the tiel (the pine) and the oak, even great damage does not deprive them of their substance – their ability to regenerate live branches and leaves when conditions become more favorable. Their root stock is located safely below ground, and is untouchable; from it springs forth renewed branches and leaves in the presence of water …
So the holy seed is embodied in those surviving roots. These shall be the “substance” of the future age! <HEL code 9M) ~1250 words.
Historic Events and Prophecies (Ahaz)
Time passes. Isaiah seems not to be actively prophesying during the reign of Jothan. These words are penned during the reign of Ahaz, which began c. 730 BC.
An alliance of Syria and Samaria (the Ten Tribes of Israel) by their kings – Rezin and Pekah. These came up together against Jerusalem.
Isa 7:1 And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it.
The warning of this coalition came to Ahaz, who received it sometime in advance of their attack. Of course, he was alarmed.
Isa 7:2 And it was told the house of David (that is, Ahaz), saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his (Ahaz’s) heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind.
The LORD deemed this a time to comfort Ahaz as well as the people of his house, the recipients of the promise to David in II Samuel 7 – to reassure them that this attack should not succeed … that their heritage was not to come to an end by this means.
Isa 7:3 Then said the LORD unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shearjashub (meaning," a remanant shall return") thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field;
Isa 7:4 And say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for (because of) the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah.
Isa 7:5 Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have taken evil counsel against thee, saying,
Isa 7:6 Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal:
Tabeal is a Syrian name, and in Hebrew means, pleasing (t0) God. This was evidently Rezin and Pekah’s estimation of the man intended to be a puppet regent over Judah after their intended conquest of it.
Isa 7:7 Thus saith the Lord GOD, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.
Isa 7:8 For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people.
Here is concrete indication that the Assyrian captivity of Ephraim (so named as it was the chief tribe of the Ten) had not yet happened. Damascus was to be desecrated at the same time, but not destroyed to complete ruination, as that fate still awaits that fair city! See Isaiah 17.
Isa 7:9 And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah's son. If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.
This solemn warning to Ahaz revealed to him the absolute necessity to BELIEVE the Almighty; otherwise, he should be overthrown.
Divine Interposition: The Virgin’s Son
Again, the LORD spoke to Ahaz – doubtless through Isaiah again …
Isa 7:10 Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying,
Isa 7:11 Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.
Ahaz was not limited in the difficulty of the sign which he might propose …
Isa 7:12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD.
Was this rather pious statement uttered by Ahaz based on great faith? – or on some other basis, such as disbelief (lack of faith)?
For example … had he already made up his mind to contact Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria, for assistance? Had he already sent emissaries to Assyria? We cannot know from the text. But he had hardened his heart against this northern invasion, and intended to resist it on his own terms – thus denying the leadership of the Almighty, Who should have protected the nation from being overthrown.
God already knew that Ahaz did not believe; He issues this warning through Isaiah …
Isa 7:13 And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?
Now a confirmatory short term prophecy is given of an impending event … it would be a literal happening in that time in history, but it would foreshadow a far more important but similar birth of One in the centuries ahead – a person of “sign” in the most meaningful of terms.
Isa 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son (is pregnant,and beareth a son – showing that the birth of that son was imminent), and shall call his name Immanuel.
The name Immanuel means “God (is) with us.”
Isa 7:15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.
Isa 7:16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.
This prophecy bears close scrutiny, for it was to Ahaz and Judah in their day, a short term prophecy that would prove the Almighty’s veracity.
But it contained a long-term, shadowed prophecy as well, to be brought about some 700 years later! It should come forward in an eerily similar manner, result in the same name of the offspring which should result, and bear other similarities.
Because of the weariness which they had incurred, the Almighty now told them of the substantiating event – the birth of a child to a particular (unknown) woman, who He designates as the damsel (Hebrew, ha’almah), wrongly translated “a virgin.”
The term “virgin” is misleading, as we may be assured that Jesus’ birth is the ONLY “virgin” birth ever to have occurred.
Instead, the damsel was doubtless a well-known young woman whose identity was unmistakable (Bullinger’s explanation in f.n.). His reasoning is entirely valid, in our opinion. “The Hebrew for virgin (in our technical sense) is bethulah…. Its first occurrence is Genesis 24: 16, where, compared with verse 43, it shows that every every Bethulah is indeed an Almah (every virgin is a damsel), not every Almah is a Bethulah (not every damsel is a virgin). The prophecy does not lose its Messianic character, for Mary, in whom it was fulfilled, is designated by the same holy, inspiring Spirit, as parthenos (not gune).
As a sign to Ahaz, this damsel was an almah. As a sign when the prophecy was fulfilled (or filled fully), it was Mary, the parthenos.
The invasion of Israel and Syria would invite other dire consequences as well as the dispersion of Israel by Assyria.
These events should also fall upon Judah and her king of that future time – Hezekiah.
Isa 7:17 The LORD shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father's house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; even the king of Assyria.
The Assyrian Invasion
Isa 7:18 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.
The fly and the bee are typical, annoying pestilences. They either bite or sting, inflicting hurt. Isaiah 30: 1,2 tell of the futility of calling upon Egypt for help (the fly). Isaiah 7:17 indicates the identity of the king of Assyria with the bee.
Isa 7:19 And they shall come, and shall rest all of them in the desolate valleys, and in the holes of the rocks, and upon all thorns, and upon all bushes.
Isa 7:20 In the same day shall the Lord shave with a razor that is hired, namely, by them beyond the river, by the king of Assyria, the head, and the hair of the feet: and it shall also consume the beard.
Isa 7:21 And it shall come to pass in that day, that a man shall nourish a young cow, and two sheep;
Isa 7:22 And it shall come to pass, for the abundance of milk that they shall give he shall eat butter: for butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the land.
The message here is that the Land should descend into poverty and non-productivity – from lush agriculture to poor pasturage, so that one’s subsistence was uncertain, though adequate for the sparse population that should remain.
Further evidence of this is Isaiah’s next statement:
Isa 7:23 And it shall come to pass in that day, that every place shall be, where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings (this is rental payments – the shekels), it shall even be for briers and thorns. That is, the land is not worth leasing, for its poor productivity. It sinks to its sole, debased use – a field of combat for invading armies.
Isa 7:24 With arrows and with bows shall men come thither; because all the land shall become briers and thorns.
Isa 7:25 And on all hills that shall (should be) be digged with the mattock, there shall not come thither (the text means thou wilt not come hither, or venture to walk, without weapons – vs. 24 – where thou wast wont to plough in peace), the fear of briers and thorns: but it shall be for the sending forth of oxen, and for the treading of lesser cattle. <HEL code 9M> ~1500 words.
The Son of Isaiah
And now the prophet gives a second sign of the brief period prior to the overthrow of Damascus and Israel.
Isa 8:1 Moreover the LORD said unto me, Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man's pen concerning Mahershalalhashbaz.
Isa 8:2 And I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah.
Isa 8:3 And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said the LORD to me, Call his name Mahershalalhashbaz.
Isa 8:4 For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria.
This complex name, Mahershalalhashbaz, is defined as “haste, spoil, speed, prey,” and means, according to the comments in the previous verse, “He hasteneth [to take the] spoil, he speeds [to sieze] the prey.”
The literal invasion of Assyria, and conquest of Damascus and Samaria as thus defined, was accomplished on schedule, in a short time. This child was a prophetic sign, just as was the child of 7:14. But this child’s birth and name does not seem to have a secondary fulfillment.
The Assyrian Invasion
Isa 8:5 The LORD spake also unto me again, saying,
Isa 8:6 Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah's son;
The waters of Shiloah refers to the life-giving watercourse lying far below Mount Zion, connecting the Spring Gihon with the Pool of Siloam – the main water source for the city. It had been constructed by Hezekiah in the previous siege of the city by Sennacherib of Assyria.
The silence and invisibility of this secreted, underground stream symbolized the deep, loving instruction of the LORD which Israel ignored.
They trusted instead in the physical prowess of the king of Israel and the king of Syria (see 7:9).
The result would be first felt by Samaria – the result of the Assyrian “waters” which should overflow Israel – inundating and removing all the people. His effects should also be felt by Judah, however, as indicated by verse 8 …
Having ignored the waters of Shiloah, which admonished them to follow the Almighty, they would now be overtaken by another “water” – the waters of the river that was Assyria.
Isa 8:7 Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks:
Isa 8:8 And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings (his military divisions) shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.
And so Assyria’s waters did inundate them. Even Jerusalem was threatened in the days of Hezekiah, but was saved by the angel of the Lord by his slaying the Assyrian army of 185,000 lying like grasshoppers outside Jerusalem’s walls.
The repetition of the title Immanuel (cf., Isaiah 7: 14) emphasizes that this land is that of Immanuel (“God is with us”) as expressed by the actions and purpose of the coming LORD Jesus, so it clearly shows that much more was still to come – that the prophecy should not be exhausted in these events of their days.
This land, in this verse, is said to be the Land of Immanuel (“thy land”) already, although His possession of it in reality lies more than 2500 years in the future! It is curious that Jesus personally is nowhere else addressed as “Immanuel,” and that He was never called that by any recorded person or character of the Bible. But the appellation is entirely apropos, indicating His core Purpose and Mission.
Indeed, it is our conviction that this prophecy’s complete fulfillment awaits the events depicted in Micah 5, in which the complete destruction of Assyria of the end time is outlined BY that specific “man” of Bethlehem Ephrata, when “Assyria” is prophesied to invade the Land yet again – and be defeated soundly by “Immanuel” of that coming time!
But the Almighty’s protection is here extended to them on an infinite basis – not now, but resumed much later. Judah’s Commonwealth would be saved for a time (a result of Hezekiah’s sincere prayer), and later defeated soundly – twice – but their ultimate future was even brighter. The destiny of their enemies was destruction – because God is ultimately with Judah!
Isa 8:9 Associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye of far countries: gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces.
Isa 8:10 Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us.
Isa 8:11 For the LORD spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying,
Isa 8:12 Say ye not, (insert here the ellipsis, ‘We will form …) A confederacy,’ to all them to whom this people shall say, ‘A confederacy;’ neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.
The meaning here is surely that by raising and admitting (assembling) a confederacy, they were exercising poor judgment – by trusting on the arm of men.
His promise of their protection had been given, although not believed by Ahaz – a warning being given to Isaiah not to throw in with these unbelievers.
Isa 8:13 Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.
To “sanctify” is to HALLOW the LORD, and fear (respect and obey) Him, and dread the consequences of disobedience.
Isa 8:14 And He shall be for a sanctuary (to the faithful); but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem (all of them being unbelievers in His Providence).
These words referred directly to the Personage of Jesus; these words were quoted in four NT writings by Paul, Peter and Luke! Being in reality the Chief Cornerstone to His people He became also, by their refusal, a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense (to them): IPeter 2:8.
The subsequent downfall of Judah came strikingly to pass to the letter!
Isa 8:15 And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.
Isa 8:16 Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples (or among My instructed ones).
Isa 8:17 And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.
Isaiah now voices his own conviction that he and the little children whom God has given him, are symbols for Israel from the Lord. These are children of sign.
Isa 8:18 Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.
Isa 8:19 And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?
Necromancy – for this designates that abominable practice – is consultation with the dead – as if that were even possible! The meaning of this last phrase requires an ellipsis for better comprehension: for [should] the living [seek] unto the dead?
Instead, the way of the LORD is prescribed …
Isa 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
Isa 8:21 And they shall pass through it, hardly bestead and hungry: and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward.
Isa 8:22 And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness.
The true distress of disobedience shall overcome them in trouble, darkness and anguish. So shall the end be of the unbelievers.
<HEL code 9M> ~1150 words.
But For All This, His Hand is Stretched Out Still
Bullinger notes that this member (verses 1-7) relates to Messiah, the Son, referring back to 8:9, 10; and carries 7:14 on to its future fulfillment. By inspection we can determine that this is a correct interpretation.
Isa 9:1 Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.
This reference is to the aggression of Ben-hadad, when he smote Dan and other nearby regions and Naphthali, “lightly” afflicting them, recorded in IKings 15:20.
Isa 9:2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
The miserable condition of their “darkness” (of mind and spirit) was to be reversed in future time. These familiar words are quoted in Matthew 4:14-16, 17. Their meaning is explained in verse 17: From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, ‘Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
This is the light which would enlightened them who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death – of hopelessness and despair – even if they were not aware of their doomed condition. It had not existed per se in the day of the prophecy, but should certainly materialize in future time, when the Purveyor of Light, the LORD Jesus Christ, had appeared upon the scene. Only THEN could those who “walked in darkness” have the Light shined upon them to give them the eternal hope of salvation in Christ.
Isa 9:3 Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
As translated here this verse does not make sense, as two opposite conditions are indicated. Dr. C. D. Ginsburg believes that the word haggil’o (to him) was wrongly translated with l’o as a separate word, (two words, which negate the meaning).
Corrected, the verse forms a perfect introversion of conditions: (f.n. in C.B.)
a. Thou hast multiplied the exaltation,
b. Thou hast increased the joy;
c. They joy before thee according to the joy in harvest,
d. And as men exult when they divide the spoil.
This understanding removes any ambiguity or confused meaning from its message, showing its positive meaning to be as a result of His future blessings.
Isa 9:4 For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.
At the time given, this is a prophecy of the future significance of the Plan which the Father has placed in motion for Israel being entirely prophetic in nature even though stated in the past tense. At that present time no such benefits were possible, for the provision for them had not yet been accomplished in actuality. But revealing them as expressed in the past tense assures the readers/hearers that their certainty of accomplishment is sealed by His power and determination.
This victory evokes positive memories of Gideon’s victory recorded in Judges 7, when the 300 trumpeters scattered the great host of Midian into the night – and the LORD set every man’s sword against his brother – and Oreb and Zeeb, their leaders, were slain and beheaded.
The following verse visualizes the tumult of pitched warfare, and the consumption which ensues. The resultant condition accentuates and reinforces the original statement.
Isa 9:5 For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.
Their Salvation Proclaimed
And now the prophecy of the “Divine Interposition” comes to its end in the following comforting words – the terminus of that which began in 7:14, quoted in Luke 2:11 et seq., by the angels who announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds of Bethlehem’s rich meadows. It was to be fulfilled about 700 years into the future from Isaiah’s day!
Isa 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
And now the prophecy moves instantly to a time more than 2700 years into the future in which its ultimate fulfillment is accomplished – when the full effect of His power and glory is expressed in His Second Advent and the events of that day, when the LORD Jesus literally inherits the fruits of His labor and suffering as he moves into His literal establishment as Messiah in his full glory and power!
Isa 9:7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
This grand pronouncement IS the description of the Salvation of Israel – of Israelites both of Isaiah’s day and all subsequent days.
Yes, it depended upon the future birth of this Son and His complete obedience to God’s word and Plan. But God’s Word made that an absolute certainty, for this Man and His work and obedience would be His Salvation to men!
Confederacy of the Almighty
Isa 9:8 The Lord sent a word into Jacob [the word which was written in 2:5], and it hath lighted upon Israel [it has now long since come to pass].
Isa 9:9 And all the people shall know, even Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria, that say in the pride and stoutness of heart,
Isa 9:10 The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones: the sycomores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars.
Here is stated the defiance of Israel against her God. It is a statement of obstinacy and resistance to His will that is deep and convicted. It is indeed a repudiation of His rebuke to them. The nation does not heed this “shot across the bow,” which the Almighty has allowed to be delivered to them as advance warning of the depth of their iniquity.
There is interesting parallel to this scenario now playing out in the U.S., the entirety of which is included in The Harbinger, by Rabbi Jonathan Cahn [Front Line, 2011], 262 pages. His book is recommended reading, whether or not one believes the U. S. to be important in Bible prophecy. The harbingers in Cahn’s book are nine in number, and are in complete conformity with these harbingers sent to ancient Israel as to its eventual destruction!
As Rabbi Cahn presents them, they are more than remarkably parallel to the events indicated by the same events in ancient Israel, where its defiance was entirely parallel to the determined defiance of the LORD in the nation of the United States that we view today.
If you have the interest and time (and want to purchase the book), it is recommended “light” reading (which may be “heavier” than we might suspect at the moment!
This writer (HEL) does not feel that the U.S. figures in any significant way in Bible prophecy except as the general “world power,” a merchant of the earth) but one must be aware that the U. S. has been more than generous to the Jewish people, acting mostly as a protective vessel for the Jews’ preservation and prosperity. Most of the Israel bonds which financed the modern State of Israel were bought by Jews and their supporters in North America.
This warning falls on insensitive minds in Israel. They WILL NOT change their ways! So a remedy for their intransigence is made known unto them …
Isa 9:11 Therefore the LORD shall set up the adversaries of Rezin against him, and join his enemies together;
Isa 9:12 The Syrians before, and the Philistines behind; and they shall devour Israel with open mouth. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still (i.e., stretched out against them).
We note with wonder, the extreme patience of the Almighty! His anger against them persists to infinity, almost, but, in the end, He is ready ALWAYS to accept their repentance!
But such is not to be … yet:
Isa 9:13 For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the LORD of hosts.
Isa 9:14 Therefore the LORD will cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush, in one day.
What ARE these elements? He defines them immediately:
Isa 9:15 The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail.
Isa 9:16 For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.
Isa 9:17 Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows: for every one is an hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. His hand of oppression and punishment is still stretched out toward and upon them!
Isa 9:18 For wickedness burneth as the fire: it shall devour the briers and thorns, and shall kindle in the thickets of the forest, and they shall mount up like the lifting up of smoke.
Isa 9:19 Through the wrath of the LORD of hosts is the land darkened, and the people shall be as the fuel of the fire: no man shall spare his brother.
Isa 9:20 And he shall snatch on the right hand, and be hungry; and he shall eat on the left hand, and they shall not be satisfied: they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm:
The horrifying prophecy in Leviticus 26: 29, foretold this extreme hunger, leading to cannibalism, in their periods of straitest oppression. It occurred during the siege of Jerusalem, as recorded by Josephus and other historians.
Isa 9:21 Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh: and they together shall be against Judah. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
This third expression of His anger not being turned away, and of His hand of oppression being yet stretched out over them is indication of certainty as well as severity.
<HEL code 9m) ~1360 words.
His dire predictions continue in the same vein as the last chapter – indeed, is a continuation of it.
Isa 10:1 Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write (or legalize, iniquities) grievousness (oppression) which they have prescribed;
Isa 10:2 To turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless!
Isa 10:3 And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory?
This is a sober question which shall come into their minds when the northern invaders of that day come to take them away. Assyria shall not be their helper, for Assyria shall be the oppressor!
Isa 10:4 Without me they shall bow down under the prisoners, and they shall fall under the slain. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
And for a fourth time, He reminds them that His anger is not turned away, but that His arm of oppression is still extended over them! Their punishment shall be relentless until it has had its effect upon them.
The Almighty’s Covenant: Broken for Israel’s Deliverance
Isa 10:5 O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation.
These words are words of summons to Assyria – the power which He has elected to bring His indignation upon them. It is clear that Assyria’s invasion is from the LORD.
Isa 10:6 I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.
Bullinger points out that the Assyrian monuments indicate that this leader was Sargon, the father of Sennacherib.
Isa 10:7 Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few.
This statement that he meaneth not so indicates no special vendetta from the LORD against Israel – that this oppression is simply an inborn desire and goal of Sargon, to pillage and conquer every nation. Judah lies nearby and seems ripe for the picking.
His next statement … indicates the arrogance of Sargon and the Assyrians, who believed even their princes themselves to be higher in station than their enemies’ kings!
Isa 10:8 For he saith, Are not my princes altogether kings?
His goal is now shown to specify Judah and Jerusalem as his next objective …
Isa 10:9 Is not Calno as Carchemish? is not Hamath as Arpad? is not Samaria as Damascus?
Isa 10:10 As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols, and whose graven images did excel them of Jerusalem and of Samaria;
Isa 10:11 Shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, so do to Jerusalem and her idols?
But, like all oppressors of His people, their punishment also shall come back upon their heads. However, before this time, He shall use Assyria to punish His people sorely. He is just and righteous in this intention and its achievement because the hatred and aggression of Assyria is not of His doing; this nation is naturally an enemy of Zion, but its oppression of God’s people shall have its penalties.
Isa 10:12 Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks.
Like Nebuchadnezzar, Sargon’s pride was now soaring; his arrogance is overpowering. He is by no means aware that his strength comes from the Almighty One of Israel!
Isa 10:13 For he (Sargon) saith, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I am prudent: and I have removed the bounds of the people, and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man:
Like his later antitype, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, Sargon vaunted himself and his self-perceived importance, crediting them to his own abilities; he knew not that his greatness came directly from YHVH on high! His arrogance was unwarranted, just as in Nebuchadnezzar’s case, and should be put down summarily!
Isa 10:14 And my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people: and as one gathereth eggs that are left, have I gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped.
Sargon and his hosts will pay dearly for this boasting against the LORD’s people, and for his cruel oppression of them. He shall not realize that Assyria’s strength is from the LORD, and that without it he would be as nothing. He is the axe … Israel is the tree which it hews, for it primarily is the target of Assyria. It results, in only a few years, in Israel’s captivity to Assyria.
Isa 10:15 Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood.
Here the Almighty restates His intention toward Israel. The leanness of which He speaks is repeated in Isaiah 17:4 – a condemnation which many of today believe lies yet future, and applies to Israel as we know it today.
But it clearly was a condemnation of Israel (the Ten Tribes) when Damascus and Samaria were overrun and taken into captivity by Assyria c. 709BC. The “abandonment” of His people Israel has in our present day been consummated and had ended as foretold in Micah 5: Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth (i.e., when the nation and People have been re-constituted in their Land in the end time): then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel. Micah 5:3.
These two time markers – “until” and “then” – are immutable signals of the length of the age of His having “given them up” for a season – a very long season, otherwise known as “the Times of the Gentiles,” as defined by the LORD Jesus in Luke 21:24.
Isa 10:16 Therefore shall the Lord, the Lord of hosts, send among his fat ones leanness; and under his glory he shall kindle a burning like the burning of a fire.
The “leanness” was to be so severe that the Ten Tribes would disappear from Samaria, and be led into captivity in Assyria. Their removal would leave a vacuum in the land, which should soon be filled by others brought into the area by Assyria for re-settlement, including Arabs and Assyrians – all of whom were also idolaters.
From these interlopers arose the Samaritans of Jesus’ day.
This “leanness” of Jacob was accomplished – and endures to this day – until the day when the two sticks of Judah and Israel are reunited in the hand of the LORD as in Ezekiel 37.
In our studied opinion, it shall not be accomplished on a grand scale until after Messiah’s appearance to Israel, although there are a few citizens of Israel today from the Ten Tribes in addition to Judah and Benjamin.
Now the prophet refers to the great victory which Hezekiah should be allowed – with no assistance from Judah’s armies, or by Hezekiah’s leadership – when Assyria soon attacked Jerusalem in great force.
It would be another short-term prophecy which should reinforce Isaiah’s credentials as a prophet, proving to the People that he was indeed a bona-fide prophet of God.
The account is in 2 Kings 19:35. And it was accomplished in one day – actually during a nighttime period – and when Jerusalem awoke the next morning the great Assyrian hosts were all dead men!
Thus the Light of Israel … his Holy One … burned and devoured these thorns and briers in one day.
The same figure of thorns and briers is often used of Israel’s enemies today – Isaiah 32:13 and Ezekiel 2:6, q.v. And thankfully, their fate shall be precisely that of Assyria, when it came against Jerusalem during the reign of Hezekiah after taking Israel captive many years before!
Isa 10:17 And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame: and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day;
Isa 10:18 And shall consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body: and they shall be as when a standard bearer fainteth.
The figure of “thorns and briers” here is a reference to the nettlesome nations round about Israel, and the vile enemies sprinkled within Israel’s present holdings, who have always harassed and attacked Israel, have tried to take their land and steal their wealth. Cf., Isaiah 10:17; 27:4; 32:13; Ezekiel 2:6.
Here the certain reference is to that One Who we are accustomed to call the Light of Israel – His Holy One – the Lord, Jesus Christ, at Whose coming all these horrendous events shall be repeated precisely as rehearsed here. Cf., Obadiah; Isaiah 11 and 63; Psalm 83; Ezekiel 35; and Micah 5.
This great defeat of Assyria at Jerusalem would devastate his army. Sennacherib would immediately withdraw to the north in shame and defeat, thus giving Judah a few more years to examine their ways and come back to the Almighty.
Isa 10:19 And the rest of the trees of his forest shall be few, that a child may write them. These words represent the decimation of the other nations around Israel which were also overrun by Assyria; they are also the “trees” of His forest, as they presently inhabit the Land of Promise – the land grant originally awarded to Abram as he entered the Land the first time.
It is worth noting that the same figure of “all the trees” 0ccurs in Jesus’ prophecy recorded in Luke 21:29, which indicates the growth of various other nations besides Israel in the vacated territories of the Ottoman Empire after 1918 – the dried up Euphrates valley of the Apocalypse.
These are the proximate, artificially formed nations of the Levant including Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Kuwait, etc.
The next words of Isaiah seem to leap forward to that day of glory in the end time, when the re-gathered “remnant” of Israel which have returned to the Land, shall within a short time “stay” – or depend upon – the LORD, the Holy One (Messiah) of Israel, IN TRUTH.
That is the day of their redemption, and shall herald the return of all their brethren from the four winds, both Judah and Israel, the Twelve Tribes being again united as under David and Solomon in the Land of their inheritance – and at that time they shall inherit it forever!
Despite the objections of some, the present nation of Israel is the precursor of this mighty host, and in it we see the beginnings and ongoing progression of the People’s recovery from the Valley of Dry Bones of Ezekiel 37.
Isa 10:20 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon (depend upon) him that smote them; but shall stay (trust) upon the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth.
He is speaking of “that day” in the end time – our own days – when the remnant of Israel who have “escaped” is destined to rely on the LORD of hosts, Who shall be the LORD Jesus Christ, after He has come and saved His people from their enemies, and they have recognized and accepted Him AS their Messiah, which they thought to have destroyed on the tree at Golgotha!
From where are they returning?
Isaiah 11:11 directs our attention to some of the venues from which they shall return: And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.
That their recovery is to be TO “ISRAEL” BECOMES CERTAIN in the next verse: 12 And he shall set up an ensign (a flag, or banner: Hebrew, nec) for the (two Hebrew nations – Israel and Judah) nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
From historical outworking of this prophecy, we discern that the next verse which foretells their “return … unto the mighty God,” means first and foremost their PHYSICAL return to their Land – an event which must precede their spiritual return, for it is His physical, bodily “return” to them who dwell IN the Land that triggers their recognition of Him as Messiah and King. Cf., Zechariah 12 and 13.
The next words seem to convey overtones which include both their physical and their spiritual return to Him …
Isa 10:21 The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God.
Isa 10:22 For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness.
In other words, the great repression which He had loosed upon them, being “the consumption decreed,” should turn to divine favor and forgiveness forever.
However, they must still suffer for their iniquities – the punishment – the abandonment of them – that He has decreed. This separation from Him is their sentence from Isaiah’s time until the Second Advent – a period of time destined to exceed 2600 years.
Isa 10:23 For the Lord GOD of hosts shall make a consumption, even determined, in the midst of all the land.
This dreadful word, consumption, is in Hebrew killayon, and refers to destruction (of the land) in their absence from it.
And now the prophet again addresses his immediate hearers …
Isa 10:24 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD of hosts, O my people that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian: he shall smite thee with a rod, and shall lift up his staff against thee, after the manner of Egypt.
Isa 10:25 For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, and mine anger in their destruction.
In Judah’s final days, Assyria’s aggression ended with the angelic destruction of its giant army in the valley about the City of Jerusalem. Their captivity was later accomplished by Babylon, the successor to Assyria. In that day, Assyria was destroyed in YHVH’s anger.
The ultimate and seemingly greater message is clearly to Israel of today, bidding them not fear the Assyrian as reconstituted in our day. Cf., Micah 5.
He shall strike Israel with serious indignation, but in a very short time that indignation upon Israel shall cease, ending in Assyria’s destruction!
Although the Father’s “indignation” against Israel is mollified today, it shall still exist until the Christ of the Second Advent comes to save her from her enemies, and the People shall welcome Him with the words, “Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord,” as in Luke 13:35.
Only at that future time shall His favor be fully restored to His People, and shall He forgive their sins, and accept their repentance as related in Zechariah 12 and 13,with such depth of tenderness and compassion.
There are to be mighty miracles ahead for His people. Both the near-term (then) and the long-term (now) invasions of “Assyria” shall come to bitter ends, such as that of the Midianites at the Rock of Oreb, and the Egyptians, who drowned in the Red Sea.
Isa 10:26 And the LORD of hosts shall stir up a scourge for him according to the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb: and as his rod was upon the sea, so shall he lift it up after the manner of Egypt.
Isa 10:27 And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.
These particular words, “because of the anointing,” mean, “before the face [at the sight] of the oil.” The phrase indicates a sanctified purpose or goal which the Almighty has established. It may recall the oil of Gideon’s lamps hidden in the pitchers, which in that instance threw Midian into a panic.
But it certainly reminds the student of the Anointed of God, the Man Jesus (Anointed) – the Instrument of the end time deliverance of Judah from its Assyrian aggressor – a pin-pointed prophecy given in the 5th of Micah relating to this very event.
And now there follows a graphic depiction of Sennacherib’s advance against Judah – that one which shall end in failure at Jerusalem’s bulwark as erected by Hezekiah’s faith.
Isa 10:28 He is come to Aiath, he is passed to Migron; at Michmash he hath laid up his carriages:
Isa 10:29 They are gone over the passage: they have taken up their lodging at Geba; Ramah is afraid; Gibeah of Saul is fled.
Isa 10:30 Lift up thy voice, O daughter of Gallim: cause it to be heard unto Laish, O poor Anathoth.
Isa 10:31 Madmenah is removed; the inhabitants of Gebim gather themselves to flee.
The Assyrian host thusly comes steadily and immutably to the drastic, ruinous end of its campaign against Judah.
“Shaking his hand against the mount” is reminiscent of the vile threats of the Rabshakeh, who insisted on speaking in Hebrew so all the people should understand and should be terrorized by his threats, empty as they turned out to be.
These audible, boastful threats would actually reinforce the faith of every faithful Israelite, for later they would remember the faithful promise of the Almighty to keep them in safety!
Isa 10:32 As yet shall he remain at Nob that day: he shall shake his hand against the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem.
Nob, you will remember, is a city of the priests of Levi, and is located an half-day’s journey from Jerusalem; but it was from Lachish (2Kings 18:17) that he had dispatched Rabshakeh to threaten God’s people.
Divine Interposition: The Son of David
Isaiah 10:33 to 11:16
And now the decisive, ultimate sentence is pronounced upon Assyria.
The Agent of these events shall be the Son of David – the returned Christ of the Second Advent – whose personal presence is required in these transactions against the nations which have always resisted and coveted the Land of Promise – the Proximal Islamic peoples of the Levant.
Isa 10:33 Behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, shall lop the bough with terror: and the high ones of stature shall be hewn down, and the haughty shall be humbled.
Isa 10:34 And he shall cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one.
These summarizing phrases describe the beginning strength of Assyria’s army, and the pathetic end of its career at Jerusalem!
<HEL code 9M) ~2450 words.
Divine Interposition: The Son of David
This chapter foretells the detailed character and mission of the Son of David, now returned to the earth in glory and in power, along with a vast company of immortalized Saints.
A brief background sketch leads into the active work which He – the One Man – shall accomplish in that day.
His impeccable character underpins His righteous judgment and his consummate justice. This Branch of the LORD is the Lord Jesus Christ, including all those who accompany Him in that day. In this scene, the Branch is a collective entity: Christ and His Bride, the multitudinous Christ as we have termed it, constituting the One Man of the new age now being introduced.
The details that follow serve as a detailed prophecy of His character and mission at His first appearance.
But in verse 3, we note that the element of divine judgment is superposed upon His character – an indication that He has finished His work of His first appearance, and has returned to the earth the second time, without sin, and having salvation for His people.
Isa 11:1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
Isa 11:2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
Isa 11:3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
Hid ability to judge righteously is now inherent in His character; that ability is directly from His Father.
The following words of the prophecy address His judgmental actions on behalf of His people Israel, in the time of their second recovery (the end time).
The “earth” is the collective enemies that have over the centuries moved into His Land and claiming it as their own, have striven to drive out His people.
It is specifically that eretz (land) of promise between the Rivers.
The weapons of His warfare are clearly defined as “the breath of His lips” with which He shall “slay the wicked.”
Isa 11:4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
Isa 11:5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.
These thunderous intrusions upon the world’s peoples bring about a complete change in the conditions of general society in the earth, beginning with the First Dominion of the kingdom being palpably established between the Rivers and the Seas of the promise.
Much of the ensuing history of the coming pacification of the earth is omitted in this account, which leaps forward to the peaceable kingdom of Christ in the earth …
The next words foretell a kingdom of complete peace – not only men to men, but also among the beasts of the field – those heretofore untamed, often vicious, and even sometimes a threat to all, such as the wolf and the leopard, the lion and the bear as well as poisonous reptiles.
Conditions in the Kingdom
Isa 11:6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
Isa 11:7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
Isa 11:8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den.
Isa 11:9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
Chief among the institutions which He shall establish is David’s Son as ENSIGN to the people.
We have observed in the previous chapter that He should establish the nec – the flagged, clearly marked as Jewish, political entity of Israel – to which He would regather His people in a physical manner.
By this present statement we believe the prophet means that at Christ’s second coming, that He shall at that time become the Ensign to the people of Israel, overriding and superseding the original status of the physical State of Israel, and that one of His first accomplishments after bringing peace to Israel, shall be to recover His people from all the earth.
They shall flow from all the nations of their dispersion (the Diaspora) to this Ensign, which prior to His arrival was identified as the State of Israel. That polity is now superseded by the King Himself, Who has come to claim it and to save His people, Israel, as the new Head of State in the State of Israel.
The Recovery of His People
Isa 11:10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.
The recovery of His people shall then build upon the previous population which He has gathered prior to His Second Coming. In the year 2016 (at this writing) the population of Israel stands at about 6,200,000 Jewish citizens from over 100 countries of the earth.
It is significant to our thinking that almost ALL the Jews have, long prior to this date, been recovered from the specific areas that are next mentioned … except “the islands of the sea,” or all the unnamed regions where His people yet are resident.
All these shall now make Aliyah, coming up to Jerusalem and to Israel, bidden by the Son of David – the King Who shall gather the remainder of the House of David (Judah), Benjamin and Levi, as well as all those of the “lost” Ten Tribes who have not yet returned.
Isa 11:11 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.
Unity Under The Ensign
Isa 11:12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
But not only Judah shall come home. All His people shall assemble there in complete harmony – unlike the concision which brought disruption to the kingdom after the death of Solomon – and all shall serve the LORD in complete camaraderie and fellowship, worshipping the God of Heaven in Jerusalem in complete peace and safety under the Christ.
Ezekiel 37 typifies this newfound unity by illustration of the two sticks named “for Ephraim” (the Ten Tribes) and “for Judah” (the Two Tribes) being brought together and united in the prophet’s hand.
Isa 11:13 The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim.
Amid this great accomplishment, their enemies shall be dispatched from their Land – removed from it physically, we believe, either by being slain or being routed. In that day there shall be no more strife against His people from their local enemies of the Islamic persuasion. Gaza and Jordan, Lebanon and Assyria, even Egypt and much of Arabia shall obey Him, and be at peace with His people.
The armed forces of Israel are surely to be intimately involved in this great conquest, as the next verse specifies:
Enemies Conquered and Routed
Isa 11:14 But they (Israel’s military forces) shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines (of the Gaza Strip) toward the west; they shall spoil them of the east together: they shall lay their hand upon Edom and Moab; and the children of Ammon shall obey them.
These are specifically the inhabitants of Jordan and the south of Israel – the Negev and the Sinai Peninsula – the ancient haunts of Edom and his brethren, and the sons of Lot.
Isa 11:15 And the LORD shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea; and with his mighty wind shall he shake his hand over the river, and shall smite it in the seven streams, and make men go over dryshod.
This language is difficult to interpret in literal terms, except to determine that the enmity of Egypt’s people against Israel shall be nullified. Peace between them shall finally be achieved – even unity, as those days progress.
Egypt seems in no scriptural reference of which we are aware, to be pictured as an enemy which shall actively enter into combat with Israel, or Christ and the Saints of this day.
Isa 11:16 And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.
Those days are further described in Isaiah 19:24, as complete unity and friendship not only of Egypt, but also of Assyria. And the Kingdom shall be the LORD’s.
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Praise for the Almighty’s Deliverance
Isa 12:1 And in that day thou shalt say, O LORD, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me.
These loving words of exquisite comfort emphasize their fulfillment in that day, meaning the nascent kingdom which is to be established at the end time, and joyfully transport the reader forward to that Day of Comfort in Zion, when the LORD shall be praised in all the earth (verse 5).
His anger should be understood in our opinion as the alienation which we had from him when each of us came into the world, a condition which is denied by many, but which is clearly labeled as being upon all uncovenanted men apart from God by the Apostle Paul, in his words of Ephesians 2:11 - Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
The opposite polarity of these two conditions (from “no hope” to “made nigh”) is the very basis – the certain outcome - of the Plan of Redemption which has been mercifully put into place by the Almighty, and defines His unlimited mercy and compassion upon His children – benefits which are available to every man and woman who earnestly seek Him, all entirely free of charge.
There is no general reason for it to mean the “anger” such as some claim “the God of the Old Testament” to have for all mankind – an unsupportable assertion at the least.
In gentle contrast to such “anger,” there is, however, passive alienation of the race from Him; for every earthborn man and woman is brought into the world under the curse of Adam, each one of them destined to suffer death; these must be removed divinely from that native condition in order for ultimate “comfort” to come upon them – which is life forevermore, completely absent any discomfort, fear, disease or death – such as those fortunate inhabitants of the His kingdom shall inherit.
“In that day” shall all those remaining praise His holy name, and extol His salvation.
The prophet’s words of the next verse well confirm this conclusion …
Isa 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.
Isa 12:3 Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.
This comforting, reassuring figure of His comparison of immortality to the waters of the wells of salvation is referenced by the LORD Jesus in His Revelation to John in three distinct passages: all these are exhilarating, refreshing, invigorating, and vital figures of the times awaiting the faithful in Christ.
1. Revelation 21:6 -And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
2. Rev 22:1 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb
3. Rev 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
In that wonderful, secure state of being, the Chosen Ones of the Father are energized by the Spirit – put by metonomy for breath (pneuma, in Greek), which in the context of mortals is the breath of life – or atmospheric air. It is our most vital mortal life-support element; without it our lives expire in about four minutes to ten minutes at ambient temperatures.
The second most vital mortal life-support element is water; if deprived of it for some four days, our life ends from agonal dehydration (drastic, fatal changes in blood chemistry, with unbearable pain), catastrophic kidney failure, and cardiovascular collapse.
In these wonderfully comforting words, the divinely provided breath and water of immortality is stressed as the vital basis of that future existence as well – bridging the gap of our understanding, or comprehension, of the profound depth of such blessing “in that day.”
Isa 12:4 And in that day shall ye say, Praise the LORD, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted.
This description of circumstances is unique to the age of Christ’s kingdom on the earth, when all shall know Him, from the least to the greatest, in the words of the letter to the Hebrews: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. Hebrews 8:11
In this eminent case, the earth shall have been re-converted by Him to the perfect conditions in the Garden of God of the beginning, eastward in Eden.
The curse of the land and its produce shall have been released and extinguished forever;
… the desert shall blossom as the rose;
… the land shall bring forth so abundantly that the ploughman (of the spring) shall overtake the reapers (of the fall);
… the life-spans of its inhabitants shall be extended greatly;
… and the voice of the turtle (dove) shall be heard in the land for the abundance of peace.
Likewise shall the curse of death have been removed from mankind.
All these, indeed, are “excellent things!”
Isa 12:5 Sing unto the LORD; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth.
Isa 12:6 Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.
This wonderful acclamation, voiced so fitfully in a favorite majestic. exuberant hymn of praise, admits of no added mortally-contrived commentary, for none should be able to enumerate any equivalent benefits to those so blessed! <HEL code 9M, edited 1P> \
Israel’s Burdens, and Blessings
Major Section: Isaiah 13:1 to 27:13
Burden: Babylon and Israel
Here the destruction of Babylon is revealed as certain.
Isa 13:1 The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see.
Isa 13:2 Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them, shake the hand, that they may go into the gates of the nobles.
Isa 13:3 I have commanded my sanctified ones, I have also called my mighty ones for mine anger, even them that rejoice in my highness.
In this instance, the “sanctified ones” are the Medes and the Persians – those who are now appointed to punish Babylon for its oppression of Israel, even though that oppression was decreed by the Almighty.
It is a process similar to the punishment of Pharaoh, who also oppressed God’s people. Although his oppression of the Hebrews was the will of the Almighty, it was previously the will of Pharaoh, which the Almighty then simply utilized for His purposes.
Such is the case with Babylon. It was God’s purpose to punish Judah by Babylon’s hand; but it was already Babylon’s intention to take Judah’s land and cities.
Isa 13:4 The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like as of a great people; a tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together: the LORD of hosts mustereth the host of the battle.
It is here made clear to the hearers that this great overthrow is from the LORD; it is He Who has brought it forward for the accomplishment of His purpose.
Isa 13:5 They come from a far country, from the end of heaven, even the LORD, and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land (the land of Chaldea).
Medo-Persia’s passionate mission is to overthrow Babylon, and remove her influence from His people – to release them from Babylonian captivity being a divinely intended side effect of such. But its purpose also was to remove Babylon from the roster of nations, destroying its polity and place among the kingdoms because of His righteous indignation.
He accomplishes this by causing Babylon to be overthrown and His people freed.
In this exhaustive destruction of Babylon is seen a “type” of that which is intended for “Great Babylon” of Jesus’ prophecy in Revelation 14: 8; 16:19; 17:15; 18:2, 10 and 21.
Isa 13:6 Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.
This is a reference to Cyrus’ appointment as a sanctified servant of the Lord, and as designated conqueror of Babylon: Isaiah 44:28; 45:1, q.v. In these passages Cyrus is named some scores of years before his birth.
The Chaldeans (Babylon) shall suffer the same fate as they have wrought on Israel and other nations.
Isa 13:7 Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man's heart shall melt:
Isa 13:8 And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames.
Isa 13:9 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land (of Babylon) desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.
This phrase, “the day of the LORD,” is used first in Isaiah 2:12; it is the first of twenty occurrences of the phrase in the OT. It always indicates some mechanism or series of events which restores the Almighty to His rightful place of reverence in the eyes of men, and displaces man from his self-appointed high position!
Isa 13:10 For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.
This same condition of the disappearance of the lights of the heavens is referenced in Matthew 24:29, q.v. Its meaning seems to be that “these [elements of sun and moon] shall not celebrate Thee,” by being withdrawn. In this case, even the heavens cannot proclaim the glory of God!
But the more pointed reference is to Babylon’s estimation of itself as the highest and most advanced “civilization” among men of the time – a position which they have arrogated to themselves in opposition to the God of heaven, Whom they do not know.
Isa 13:11 And I will punish the world (here put for Babylon) for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.
Isa 13:12 I will make a man (H582 Enosh, a man, but of comparatively lesser worth than Adam – H120), more precious than fine gold; even a man (H 120, Adam – originating in the earth, or adamah – an individual man) than the golden wedge of Ophir. This comparison shows the graduated view that the Almighty has of men in general; some are of lesser worth to Him than others. That quality is doubtless a result of their response to His ways and will.
Isa 13:13 Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.
These words are clearly in reference to the “world” of Babylon – the heavens and earth of her polity and strength; these are to be removed, displaced, trampled by the wrath of the LORD as expressed in the forces of Medo-Persia which are coming to overthrow Babylon.
Isa 13:14 And it shall be as the chased roe, and as a sheep that no man (ish – a male person) taketh up: they shall every man (H582, Ish, meaning an individual of some distinctive quality) turn to his own people, and flee every one into his own land.
These three uses of the word “man” here deserve more in-depth thought, but is beyond our purpose here.
Isa 13:15 Every one that is found shall be thrust through; and every one that is joined unto them shall fall by the sword.
Isa 13:16 Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished.
Isa 13:17 Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it.
Here the threat becomes defined as being the Medes, whose empire succeeded that of Babylon by conquest.
Isa 13:18 Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children.
Isa 13:19 And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.
This dire curse upon Babylon has been pervasive; throughout the ages, her beauty and authority has never returned, nor even been seen or realized among men until the archaeologists of the 19th and 20th centuries uncovered her glory and exhibited many of her artifacts in the great museums of the world, such as the British Museum, and that of Chicago, Philadelphia, Berlin and Istanbul.
Isa 13:20 It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there.
This awful curse did indeed persist until the archaeologist’s spade turned up evidence of a great city from long ago fitting Babylon’s description and extent in the lower Tigris-Euphrates confluence. Its scrubby, desolate landscape supported only sparse vegetation upon which a few sheep might subsist; but it was largely a wild, uninhabited wasteland fit for no habitation except the indigent species of the desert.
Isa 13:21 But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures (hyenas?); and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there. (This reference is to the imaginary, goat-shaped demons worshipped by Seir-ites (sons of Esau, Mt. Seir).
Isa 13:22 And the wild beasts of the islands (probably jackals) shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons (Hebrew, tannin, probably jackals, or perhaps wild dogs) in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged.
These dreadful words were fulfilled to the letter. Babylon was lost as to location for thousands of years, and only re-discovered in the end times (19th century) by archaeologists sent from some of the great universities of the world.
Saddam Hussein of Iraq famously was striving to restore the city of Babylon to its former state, and to make it a giant tourist attraction for the Iraqis, but his initiative was interrupted by Operation Desert Storm. The project is now in limbo.
But its future habitation by that culture of arrogance and domination is conclusively banned by this sentence of the LORD. Its future existence shall be dependent upon its complicity with the ways of God, its people obeying His precepts and laws.
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Israel: the Mercy of YHVH
Isa 14:1 For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land (i.e., make them rest): and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.
These “strangers” are foreign proselytes – many of whom shall have joined themselves to Israel voluntarily. Israeli authorities are aware that thousands of the Russian immigrants to Israel today, were not originally Jewish, but these have joined themselves to Israel as Hebrews, and are part of this great multitude.
Isa 14:2 And the people shall take them, and bring them to their place: and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the LORD for servants and handmaids: and they shall take them captives, whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors.
This is a different sector of modern Israel – and Israel of the future – as these strangers who held Israel hostage in the end time shall come to friendly terms with Israel, and serve the State in menial ways. Actually, they partially already do so, for the “Palestinian” workers in Israel are numerous; they are builders, masons, carpenters, constructors of roads and infrastructure. As such they are deemed “friendly” to Israel, although not all of them are! Some have turned on their Israeli employers and killed them in the name of Allah.
Isa 14:3 And it shall come to pass in the day that the LORD shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve,
A Proverb Against the King of Babylon
Isa 14:4 That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!
We believe that here, Babylon is put, by metonymy, for all the oppressors of Israel, both past and future, that is, the wicked, aggressive nations.
Additionally, Babylon is put by metonymy for the Church (Babylon the Great) as against the saints of God throughout the ages, culminating in the latter days of the Adamic dispensation.
Isa 14:5 The LORD hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers.
Isa 14:6 He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and none hindereth.
Rest from “Babylon” Attained by Israel
Isa 14:7 The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing.
The subjects of their taunts are the former glories of Babylon – its catastrophic plunge into oblivion brought about by the Medes and the Persians under the guidance and admittance of the God of Israel.
Isa 14:8 Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us.
Isa 14:9 Hell from beneath (i.e., their national grave) is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.
Isa 14:10 All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?
The astonishment of the nations is clear. Even her detractors were admirers at the first, and are befuddled at her utter destruction. The figure comes full circle in the account of Babylon the Great’s destruction in the end time; her client-nations are depicted as being astonished that so great a city could come to naught. The words of Jesus are appropriate here:
Rev 18:10 Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come. 11 And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: 11 Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm (of death) is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.
The following text is grossly applied by most of Christendom as applying suddenly to another entity – that of a literally fallen angel (an impossibility in the first place!) named Lucifer – a bright one, or a morning star.
But the text continues onward without a break, referring to Babylon, ruled by bright ones who considered themselves literally sons of light to their captive nations.
Isa 14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer Hebrew, Heylel, or bright one), son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
Isa 14:13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
Isa 14:14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Such was the ambition of Babylon! Its great tower was designed to reach unto the heavens (I will ascend into heaven … exalt my throne above the stars of God). Toward this goal were all its assets pitched.
Isa 14:15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell (to Sheol), to the sides of the pit (the grave of nations).
Isa 14:16 They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man (ish – man of the dust; the king of Babyon, who is not a fallen angel) that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;
Isa 14:17 That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?
Isa 14:18 All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie (or sleep, in death) in glory (i.e., in state, or honor), every one in his own house.
This “house” is a mausoleum, or burial ground of honor and supposed glory. Their sleep is without end (cf., The Song of Judah: Isa 26:13 - O LORD our God, other lords beside thee have had dominion over us: but by thee only will we make mention of thy name. 14 They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise: therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish.
No condemnation could be stronger than this! The sentence is that these “lords” shall PERISH. That cannot be made out to be anything but a cessation of existence; it does not mean an eternity of conscious torment in a burning hell … for Thou hast made all their MEMORY to perish.
This, in itself, is definitively a foundational truth. The souls of men are not immortal, as supposed by most, but at death become DEAD souls. In Joshua 10 and 11, Moses records seven times, that Joshua smote all the souls that were in various places and destroyed them – or caused them to die.
And the student of God’s word is surely aware that Ezekiel 18:4 pronounces, the soul that sinneth, it shall die.
To “die” is to cease to exist, period: to return to the dust of the earth, precisely as the sentence was pronounced upon the first sinner, Eve, and her husband, Adam, in Genesis 3:19: In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
We must confess that the following words make little sense to our present understanding. It may mean that certain leaders of Israel’s oppressors were not buried in state at all, but were simply left to rot on the surface of the ground. After all, this is the destiny of Gog’s great host of Ezekiel 38 and 39 – an host so immense that it shall require nine months to bury their dead!
Isa 14:19 But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet.
Isa 14:20 Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, and slain thy people: the seed of evildoers shall never be renowned (such as being buried with stately honors).
Isa 14:21 Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers; that they do not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities.
Isa 14:22 For I will rise up against them, saith the LORD of hosts, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew, saith the LORD.
Isa 14:23 I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water: and I will sweep it with the besom (or broom) of destruction, saith the LORD of hosts.
Isa 14:24 The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand:
He now turns his attention back upon the Assyrians who are shortly to come against Israel and Judah, unsuccessfully in the latter case. It is upon the mountains and valleys about Jerusalem that this awful sentence is executed. Assyria was entirely blunted in its effort to conquer Judah; that task was left for the king of Babylon.
Isa 14:25 That I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders.
It is extremely interesting that this figure of speech is used here of Assyria; the precisely identical situation is pictured in Micah 5, as relates to Assyria’s attempt upon the remnant of Jewry, where (if) the Assyrian treads within My palaces, and walks within My holy places, he shall be so defeated by the Man from Bethlehem!
Isa 14:26 This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations.
Note carefully here that “the whole earth” indicates the eretz (land) of His promise and not all the earth; and that “all nations” are limited to the aggressors of Israel in that day – not to include all the nations of the earth. This kind of language is seen also in Zechariah 14:2, where “all nations” is likewise limited to the nations “round about’ Israel.
Isa 14:27 For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?P
And now we reach the date of the death of Ahaz.
The year is c. 715BC, about six years before the Assyrian invasion of Damascus and Samaria.
Isa 14:28 In the year that king Ahaz died was this burden.
The prophet’s attention now turns to the Philistines, which would join Assyria to the north in harassing Judah at this time in the south.
Isa 14:29 Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent.
These phrases admonish Philistia not to exult in the death of Ahaz, in which the Davidic dominion was broken by the Assyro-Ephraimite attack.
Those words indicate the opinion widely held in Philistia – that the Jews of Judah were sons of serpents. These insults are similar to those of today, which incessantly accuse the Jews of being sons of pigs and monkeys.
Now the prophet describes the ultimate state of His people to be attained under Messiah, whose presence is indicated in verse 32: the LORD hath founded Zion.
Isa 14:30 And the firstborn of the poor (the poorest of the poor ) shall feed, and the needy shall lie down in safety: and I will kill thy root with famine, and he shall slay thy remnant.
This portion of Isaiah’s message seems to be a mixture of good news for both his own and a future day. First comes the dire occurrences of the earlier time; but it is inevitably followed by insults similar to these in the end time.
Its application to the events of Isaiah 11:14 is unmistakable – the day of the end time in which the hostiles of Gaza meet their end at the hands of Israel, and of Messiah and His people.
Isa 14:31 Howl, O gate; cry, O city; thou, whole Palestina, art dissolved: for there shall come from the north a smoke, and none shall be alone in his appointed times.
Like Assyria, Philistia was also doomed to conquest. Her presence and influence should shortly come to an end for her oppression of God’s people.
Isa 14:32 What shall one then answer the messengers of the nation? That the LORD hath founded Zion, and the poor of his people shall trust in it.
These “poor” are the remnant of His people. These are they who behold His thunderous appearance and His salvation in that great day. Their general demeanor of pride and arrogance (among some of them) shall be debased and humbled in that somber time of testing for them.
Their exalted cry shall peal forth in a praiseworthy response to His appearance, as foretold by Luke 13:35: Blessed is He Who cometh in the name of the Lord!
That exuberant proclamation signals the end of their estrangement from the LORD, and acceptance of their sincere repentance by their returned Messiah and King, the Lord, Jesus Christ. Zechariah 12 and 13 contain extensive details of this momentous event.
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The Burden of Moab
Moab lies east of the Dead Sea, south of Ammon, and north of Edom. Moab and Ammon were the two sons of Lot by his two daughters after their escape from Sodom. The people have always been enemies of their cousins in Israel.
This account recounts the future of Moab and many of its cities as they bewail their bad fortune heaped upon them by the Almighty.
It needs little commentary to be sensible.
Isa 15:1 The burden of Moab. Because in the night Ar of Moab is laid waste, and brought to silence; because in the night Kir of Moab is laid waste, and brought to silence;
Isa 15:2 He is gone up to Bajith, and to Dibon, the high places, to weep: Moab shall howl over Nebo, and over Medeba: on all their heads shall be baldness, and every beard cut off.
Isa 15:3 In their streets they shall gird themselves with sackcloth (a sign of mourning): on the tops of their houses, and in their streets, every one shall howl, weeping abundantly.
Isa 15:4 And Heshbon shall cry, and Elealeh: their voice shall be heard even unto Jahaz: therefore the armed soldiers of Moab shall cry out; his life shall be grievous unto him.
Isa 15:5 My heart shall cry out for Moab; his fugitives shall flee unto Zoar, (shall flee like) an heifer of three years old: for by the mounting up of Luhith with weeping shall they go it up; for in the way of Horonaim they shall raise up a cry of destruction.
This describes conditions during the assault of Assyria, creating refugees of Moab seeking shelter from their oppressor. Chapter 16:4 contains a notoriously mis-translated sentence relating to this unrest, which we shall translate properly in the next chapter’s consideration.
Isa 15:6 For the waters of Nimrim shall be desolate: for the hay is withered away, the grass faileth, there is no green thing.
Isa 15:7 Therefore the abundance they have gotten, and that which they have laid up, shall they carry away to the brook of the willows.
Isa 15:8 For the cry is gone round about the borders of Moab; the howling thereof unto Eglaim, and the howling thereof unto Beerelim.
Isa 15:9 For the waters of Dimon shall be full of blood: for I will bring more upon Dimon, lions upon him that escapeth of Moab, and upon the remnant of the land.
This is a time of great affliction upon Moab. Both Saul and David had subdued Moab, and it had paid tribute to Ahaz. The Assyrian, Tiglath-Pileser, carried away captives from east of the Jordan, received tribute from Moab, as well as from Ahaz during his assault. Bullinger, f.n. on verse 1. <HEL code 9M> ~460 words.
The Burden of Moab, Continued
This records the first of seven Burdens upon the lands adjacent to Israel.
Isa 16:1 Send ye the lamb to the ruler of the land from Sela (a city existing today as Petra) to the wilderness, unto the mount of the daughter of Zion.
We remember that Mesha had actually done this specific thing to Judah, recorded in 2Kings 3:4: he sent as tribute an hundred thousand lambs, and an hundred thousand rams, with the wool thereof, to Ahab.
Isa 16:2 For it shall be, that, as a wandering bird cast out of the nest, so the daughters of Moab shall be at the fords of Arnon.
This information sets the stage for the next two verses; note carefully that the refugees are noted as the daughters of Moab, at the fords of the River Arnon, which flows into the Dead Sea from the high tablelands of the east in Moab.
Here the language takes on a poetic mien, addressing the River Arnon, bidding it “take counsel, execute judgment.”
The valley of the Arnon is extremely deep and narrow. Only around midday is its stream lighted by the sun; otherwise its valley is dark with shadows. This river of Moab should be a covert for them, to hide them from the Assyrian invaders.
This intent is consistent throughout the next several verses of text in this poetic address to the Arnon as if it is a personage and capable of such acts to protect the Moabite refugees from the invaders.
Isa 16:3 Take counsel, execute judgment; make thy shadow (the murky depths of the River Arnon is addressed here) as the night in the midst of the noonday; hide the outcasts; bewray not him that wandereth.
And now we read the erroneous translation of verse 4 …
Isa 16:4 Let mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab; be thou a covert to them from the face of the spoiler: for the extortioner is at an end, the spoiler (Sennacherib) ceaseth, the oppressors are consumed out of the land.
Every other translation in the writer’s library states the precise opposite of the meaning of this phrase as translated in the AV. All of them indicate the prophet’s statement is “let Moab’s outcasts dwell with thee,” meaning the River Arnon, with its shadowy covert from the Assyrians.
This erroneous translation is a real conundrum. How did it come about? And why did not our esteemed early scholars who were schooled in Hebrew not recognize this egregious error and correct it – as they did so many others?
We cannot answer that question at this time; but it has been an unfortunate affair, because other erroneous suppositions have been based upon it.
For example, earlier prophecy students have relied on this one verse as a seeming basis for their entire interpretation of the end time invasion of Israel by the Gogian host of Ezekiel 38 and 39 – claiming that many in Israel shall escape the northern host by fleeing eastward toward Jordan!
They point to the verse as solidification of their view that the Prophet Daniel’s last six verses concern the invasion of Gog.
Why so? Because of Daniel 11:41, which tells us that when the King of the North (whom they deem to be “Gog”) comes down into Israel, these areas are omitted from his attention: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon.
They do seem to fit together, don’t they?
But there is a very large problem with this interpretation. Not only is its meaning the opposite of the stated language, at the time of the King of the North’s invasion there is NO “Israel” in existence. And “Israel” is the object of Gog’s intentions as stated by Ezekiel.
The Ottoman Turk (King of the North, by definition) in 1517 AD, after an earlier battle (defeat) with Egyptian forces near Damascus, enters the coastal strip which is now Israel, and passes over it with great haste as it pursues the Egyptian King of the South, southward toward Egypt … which is specified as the target of his aggression (his target is not “Israel” at all, as is that of the Gogian host of Ezekiel 38).
At the time of the fulfillment of Daniel 11:41, as the text proves, there is no entity named Israel, and no treasures in the land of Palestine at that time. Indeed, there is hardly a population, for the land is desolate and barren – unable to support hardly anyone except the few Bedouin who keep goats and sheep and a few resident Jews, whose subsistence comes from their brethren abroad!
Therefore, these two prophecies are not identical at all, but depict two entirely distinct invasions of this area by two widely different armies and for two separate reasons, at widely separated dates in history, with two opposite endings!
This set of facts entirely destroys the theory that some of the Israelis may flee the Gogian invasion and seek refuge in Jordan of today. Isaiah 16 is not speaking of Israeli refugees at all, but is addressing the Moabite victims who are about to be overrun by Sennacherib, centuries before the birth of Christ!
This conclusion is quite evident by considering the chapter’s context within the book of Isaiah, and the details of every verse of the chapter.
This understanding entirely destroys the earlier theory that Daniel 11: 40-45 is describing the Gogian invasion of Ezekiel. And it absolutely demands that the serious Bible student recognize the facts of history as copiously and accurately recorded, which describes the last King of the North’s conquest (the Ottoman conquest) of the last King of the South (Egypt) in 1517 AD; because the historical fulfillment perfectly fits the prophecy as given!
And further, that it goes on toward its own conclusion by describing the last end of the King of the North as well – a decisive conclusion which was fulfilled when the British forces from Egypt invaded Palestine in 1917 and brought to a full end the 400-year old aggression of the Ottomans over the entire Levant, thus “drying up the Euphrates” (ejecting the power that exerted hegemony over that famous river valley – the Ottomans) and made it possible for the establishment of the nation of Israel – the fig tree of Luke 21: 29 – and “all the trees,” which are the Islamic nations which sprang up in the same general time, after World War I.
Thus the close analysis of the Biblical texts – and our resort to more exact translations of God’s word – have clarified a major error in interpretation of end time affairs, and thus greatly enhanced the faith and understanding of diligent students of the Word of God. It has contributed greatly to a rational understanding and appreciation of these end time affairs before they occur, based on a justified and rectified understanding of past events which bore directly upon these of the end time.
Now the emphasis shifts to Israel … going well beyond that moment in time – ahead to the end time, when David’s Throne SHALL be re-established on Mount Zion, and He Who sits upon it shall judge in them AND Moab’s land in righteousness, for He shall absorb it into Greater Israel, along with all the other territories from the Nile to the Euphrates, and from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf.
Isa 16:5 And in mercy shall the throne (of Israel) be established: and he (Messiah) shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness.
Isa 16:6 We have heard of the pride of Moab; he is very proud: even of his haughtiness, and his pride, and his wrath: but his lies shall not be so.
The meaning of this statement is that “[Moab’s] responses do not correspond to that claim; in other words, his claim is a lie.”
Isa 16:7 Therefore shall Moab howl for Moab, every one shall howl: for the foundations of Kirhareseth shall ye mourn; surely they are stricken.
Isa 16:8 For the fields of Heshbon languish, and the vine of Sibmah: the lords of the heathen have broken down the principal plants thereof, they are come even unto Jazer, they wandered through the wilderness: her branches are stretched out, they are gone over the sea.
Isa 16:9 Therefore I will bewail with the weeping of Jazer the vine of Sibmah: I will water thee with my tears, O Heshbon, and Elealeh: for the shouting for thy summer fruits and for thy harvest is fallen.
Isa 16:10 And gladness is taken away, and joy out of the plentiful field; and in the vineyards there shall be no singing, neither shall there be shouting: the treaders shall tread out no wine in their presses; I have made their vintage shouting to cease.
Isa 16:11 Wherefore my bowels shall sound like an harp for Moab, and mine inward parts for Kirharesh.
Isa 16:12 And it shall come to pass, when it is seen that Moab is weary on the high place, that he shall come to his sanctuary to pray; but he shall not prevail (or, obtain anything).
Isa 16:13 This is the word that the LORD hath spoken concerning Moab since that time.
Isa 16:14 But now the LORD hath spoken, saying, Within three years, as the years of an hireling, and the glory of Moab shall be contemned, with all that great multitude; and the remnant shall be very small and feeble.
These three years are from the time of Ahaz, and shows that this period of Isaiah’s ministry is well prior to the Assyrian captivity of Israel – a fact that becomes important in the next chapter when we consider verse 4.
Moab’s constitution was broken up by Assyria by their transporting Moabites to Assyria, as it was the practice of Assyria to do, and taking from its land the more well-to-do and educated of the population, making the land desolate and forlorn.
It is notable that the same fate awaits modern inhabitants of Moab, which is central Jordan of today. The land is fairly thickly settled, for the writer remembers once passing through a large city near Mount Nebo – a city of perhaps 50,000 inhabitants. The forlorn land cannot easily sustain such a population. These citizens of Jordan are not farmers in this particular area, but many of them are employed in the potash mines which dot the landscape of Moab today.
The “captivity” of Moab has, indeed returned, as Jeremiah 48:7 attests: Yet will I bring again the captivity of Moab in the latter days, saith the LORD.
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The Burden of Damascus
In this great, regional assault and conquest by Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria, Damascus was taken, and partially destroyed. But its administration was not taken away; its character as a city was preserved. It was made capital of Damascene Assyria – a southern province of Assyria.
The certain ultimate meaning of this prophecy is that the entire character of Damascus shall be dismantled, and her government destroyed beyond recovery. The early, limited destruction was a foreshadowing of the ultimate destruction of the city.
The developing Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) today answers to the ASSYRIA of yesteryear, if our thinking is correct. ISIS is also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham; Sham is an ancient name for Syria. Together, they would comprise “Assyria” of yesteryear, although the organization may not be so named. In addition, the entity may not control ALL the lands of both those modern countries, but shall be sufficiently strong to exert the enormous pressure upon Israel that ancient Assyria asserted.
These followers of al-Qaeda are now striving (in our year, 2016) to form a state composed of portions of Iraq and of Syria – a “caliphate” resulting from this conquest – whose intention is to dominate both Iraq and Syria, and then, in their own words, to attack Israel!
As a resident-state within the Abrahamic inheritance, Syria, and its capital, Damascus, is certain to be obliterated, its governmental infrastructure dismantled, and its people either converted or killed – or transported somewhere beyond Israel’s borders. It future fate shall be as pervasive and devastating as was that of ancient Babylonia.
This terrible fate is not our forecast, but is the subject of the condemnation of the God of Israel.
This is the second of seven Burdens to be heaped upon Israel’s neighbors.
Isa 17:1 The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.
As already noted in the prophecies about Moab, the prophecy leaps forward to the time of the end. But here the “surface” account is primarily for that earlier time – not the end time.
We can discern this fact from other events which are forecasted to happen at the same time – namely, verse 4, which foretells the conquest of Ephraim (the Ten Tribes in the north) by Assyria, which is the same power that on that occasion overcomes and de-commissions Damascus, taking both areas into Assyria’s hegemony and total control.
In the end time, a similar attack will be made upon the regathered people of Israel from “the Assyrian” of that day, which is yet future.
We believe we can now discern just what and who that power is: it is the newly emerging Islamic State (IS), the leader of which is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-styled Caliph of that state. He has proclaimed that IS will absorb all or most of Iraq and Syria, then move south to attack Israel on behalf of the “Palestinians,” as already spoken about above. But, If ISIS is not successful in its intentions, we believe some other such entity will arise as representing "Assyria" in the end time.
In that action, we believe ISIS (or a similar military force) will effect an end-time fulfillment of this prophecy IN FULL, resulting in the destruction of the political character of Damascus as well as its physical infrastructure in its aggression of Israel of today.
In the coming conflict, it seems clear that the armed forces of Israel will probably also have a chief role in the destruction of Damascus, as it fights against the “Assyrian” of that day (see Micah , chapter 5, for a summary of this terminal battle) because instead of Israel then being overcome, it will be strong enough (with assistance from the LORD Jesus Who has returned with an innumerable company of Immortal Saints, and shall be assisting Israel) to resist and successfully defeat the Assyrian of that future time. The outworking of this prophecy may entirely reprise the earlier case, when ancient Assyria was successful up to a certain point, and then had its army utterly destroyed in the valleys surrounding Jerusalem.
The account in Psalm 83, adds significant details of that battle, however, and will be the manner of its fulfillment in the end time, for it is an end-time prophecy also.
In that assault, Damascus will indeed be wrecked and completely destroyed, unlike the first time it was overrun by Assyria of old. At that earlier time it was greatly damaged, and its governing body taken away. Its character was changed to become an Assyrian subject-city, but it did continue to be inhabited.
It finally recovered to become a beautiful, pleasant city of residence many years later; so it was not completely destroyed.
The coming assault, which seems now to be building, will exhaust this prophecy about the complete destruction of the city and the country of Syria along with its Islamic (Alawite/Shi’ite) government of Bashar al-Assad, for its destiny is to be completely destroyed and taken away from being a city. It shall not survive as an Islamic entity, for such intrusion of paganism within the Promised Land shall not be tolerated by the Christ Who is there present at that time.
The coming King of Israel, the LORD Jesus Christ, will not suffer Islam to inhabit the Land any longer, as Zechariah 14:21 records that … in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts.
Our conviction is that when the LORD Jesus comes back to the earth, He and the immortal Saints along with the Israel Defense Force shall clear the entire Land of Promise of all foreign intruders.
That is, He will clear all foreigners, meaning non-Israelites, from the full extent of the entire Abrahamic Land Grant, which runs from the Nile River in the south to the Euphrates River in the north, and from the Mediterranean Sea on the west to the Persian Gulf on the east. That is ultimately the First Dominion of the Kingdom as referenced by Micah 4:8, q.v.
Isa 17:2 The cities of Aroer are forsaken: they shall be for flocks, which shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid.
At that Time, Israel was to Be Severely Affected as Well
Isa 17:3 The fortress also shall cease from Ephraim, and the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria: they shall be (destroyed) as the glory of the children of Israel, saith the LORD of hosts.
Both these entities – Syria and Israel (Ephraim) – were placed in submission to Assyria at the overthrow of the Ten Tribes, c. 710BC, and these words refer to that conflict and captivity.
Isa 17:4 And in that day it shall come to pass, that the glory of Jacob shall be made thin, and the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean.
This somber sentence indicates the full extent of Jacob’s desolation at that time. The population would be so decimated that the land should be largely desolate and forlorn – abandoned, and then open to an influx of foreigners – the source of the Samaritans of a later time who moved into and squatted in Galilee of the Nations.
Isa 17:5 And it shall be as when the harvestman gathereth the corn, and reapeth the ears with his arm; and it shall be as he that gathereth ears in the valley of Rephaim.
Isa 17:6 Yet gleaning grapes shall be left in it, as the shaking of an olive tree, two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outmost fruitful branches thereof, saith the LORD God of Israel.
The captivity of Israel was so thorough that few members of the Tribes remained in the land. In this way, their self-supposed “glory” of Jacob was made thin – a magnificent understatement of the Almighty’s judgment upon them.
The event was in the immediate future from the time of the prophecy.
It should result in sobriety and introspection in the small remnant that is left, provoking repentance and a diligent seeking of the Lord by them. These who are admonishable are blessed, as the text shows.
This remnant is in a sense symbolic of the Israelites of the end time, who will wonder at the intervention of the mysterious Stranger (see Isaiah 63: 1-6) and His great company Who appears out of nowhere and fiercely fights their enemies.
Only later (cf., Zechariah 12 and 13) shall they realize that this Stranger is their Messiah, none other than the LORD Jesus Christ, Whom they thought to have killed over 2000 years ago.
At that time only, and not before, shall they cry with one thankful, appreciative voice, “Blessed is He Who cometh in the name of the Lord!” as Jesus Himself told them they would, in Luke 13:35 - Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
The next words of Isaiah correlate perfectly with that blessed future day, when every man of Israel shall see and understand that the Stranger is really no stranger at all, but their long-awaited Savior.
At that earlier time of their captivity, a similar realization should be true for only a small remnant of His people who all along had tried to obey His commandments and live a righteous life even in the corrupt society that was Israel of the day. As today, with the followers of Jesus among the enormous population of Gentiledom, their number was probably so small as to be inconsequential, and not widely observed by their fellows of the day.
Their humble, submissive attitude is reflected in the prophet’s words that follow …
Isa 17:7 At that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel.
Isa 17:8 And he shall not look to (respect) the altars, the work of his hands, neither shall respect that which his fingers have made, either the groves, or the images.
The desolation of Israel of that day was to be pervasive, totally destroying the society of the Ten Tribes, and removing the preponderance of its people to exile in Assyria.
Isa 17:9 In that day shall his strong cities be as a forsaken bough, and an uppermost branch, which they left because of the children of Israel: and there shall be desolation.
It is verifiable that throughout the history of the Ten Tribes of the north, a good many of the faithful of Samaria moved south into the Judean kingdom; these were not affected by the animosity and aggression of Assyria – a blessing for their faithfulness at least up to that point.
But the iniquitous and forlorn citizens of Samaria should not be so blessed …
Isa 17:10 Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the rock of thy strength, therefore shalt thou plant pleasant plants, and shalt set it with strange slips:
These “strange slips” should be the foreigners who moved into the vacuum created by the removal of God’s people to Assyrian captivity.
Isa 17:11 In the day shalt thou make thy plant to grow, and in the morning shalt thou make thy seed to flourish: but the harvest shall be a heap in the day of grief and of desperate sorrow.
Now Isaiah is given a significant message of hope for his people, pronouncing a woe upon the oppressors. This must wait for its fulfillment until the end time, as verifiable from the text.
Isa 17:12 Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise (a plaintive sound) like the noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations, that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters!
Now the prophet’s words are indicating the turmoil and terrorism of the latter days – our time in history, and Israel’s present day. The “nations” which he nominates are the heathen peoples who are today striving to conquer Israel – the nearby Islamic/Arab nations who rabidly attack and try to devour God’s people and take their land.
Their future history is here made plain, and their aggression condemned out of hand – their fate pronounced for all to see. The description of their activities that follow is an exact forecast of their final, painful aggression of Israel.
Isa 17:13 The nations (those nearby Israel) shall rush like the rushing of many waters: but God shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like a rolling thing before the whirlwind.
There is a distinct connection here with the end-time events of Psalm 83:13-16, where the same punishment is invoked upon the (same) oppressors in that narrative.
Their outlook is indeed dim – their defeat is to be consummate and final.
Isa 17:14 And behold at eveningtide trouble; and before the morning he (the enemy) is not. This is the portion of them that spoil us, and the lot of them that rob us.
This poetic expression reveals that the evening – the setting of Damascus’ sun – the end of her existence, shall be extremely troublesome to its people; "before the morning, he is not," expresses the utter destruction of Damascus and all its society, perhaps on one decisive day.
We believe the “morning” here is referencing the brightness of Zion’s glad morning of which we often sing – when the Light of the Lord is present in her, and indeed, whose searing heat is the source of Damascus’ darkness and mourning – its conquest and utter defeat.
The next chapter addresses the recovery of God’s people from “beyond the rivers of Ethiopia,” meaning, we believe, the far-flung regions into which His people were dispersed by Rome’s legions in 70 AD and 135 AD.
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Burden of Ethiopia (Cush)
This is the third of seven Burdens upon Israel’s proximate neighbors, all of which have a close association with Israel of our time; Ethiopia here is from the Hebrew, Cuwsh; it means the Sudan/Eritrea/Ethiopia of today. Sudan’s connection with end time events is not very clear at this time, but that country is harbor to myriads of Islamic terrorists – arch enemies of Israel, even at a distance. This condition came about when terrorist bases from other countries, including Afghanistan, were transferred to this country in order to circumvent attacks upon those other countries by Western forces. The formerly indolent Sudan/Eritrea/Ethiopia area became enemy activists against Israel.
But there may be another connection – discussion further down.